Two Los Angeles County Fire Department captains have been dispatched with specialized rescue teams to areas ravaged by a tornado that left a 20-mile-long swath of death and destruction in Oklahoma, officials said Tuesday afternoon.
One captain is working as a communications leader, and the other is with a support unit that is part of an urban search-and-rescue team. The team is staffed with firefighters from agencies across California, officials said.
Members of the team are trained in using sophisticated devices that can find victims and bodies in the rubble of collapsed buildings. They are also trained in using huge air bags and other specialized equipment to move large chunks of rubble.
A spokeswoman for the county Fire Department told The Times that the captains were requested by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
At least three other firefighters from the Orange County Fire Authority and Los Angeles Fire Department have been dispatched to assist in the massive recovery effort.
In Oklahoma, officials Tuesday were still trying to determine exactly how many people died after the mile-wide tornado bore down on the Oklahoma City suburb of Moore with 200 mph winds. At least 24 bodies were taken to the medical examiner's office, officials said.
On Monday night, officials reported that at least 51 people had been killed, but that figure was revised downward Tuesday by officials who blamed inaccurate figures on the double-counting of some victims. Scores of others were injured.
Throughout the night, firefighters from across Oklahoma searched amid the devastation for victims and bodies. They were assisted by members of the National Guard, officials said.