(CNN) — Rescue workers raced against time and the oncoming night Monday looking for survivors after a powerful tornado blasted an area outside of Oklahoma City, leveling homes and killing at least 37 people.

Seven of the dead were children from Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore, which lay directly in the path of the monster storm’s wall of wind.

Seventy-five students and staff members had been huddled the school when the storm hit, CNN affiliate KFOR reported.

As nightfall approached, determined searchers in hard hats dug in the debris for students possibly trapped, but authorities described the work as a recovery, not rescue, effort.

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