Monday, May 23, 2011

Tornado devastates Joplin, Missouri, 116 dead

Tornadoes Hit Midwest: Missouri Tornado Kills At Least 116

JOPLIN, Mo. (AP) - A massive tornado that tore a six-mile path across southwestern Missouri killed at least 116 people as it smashed the city of Joplin, ripping into a hospital, crushing cars and leaving behind only splintered tree trunks where entire neighborhoods once stood.
City Manager Mark Rohr announced the new death toll at a Monday afternoon news conference. He said seven people had been rescued, and Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon said he was "optimistic that there are still lives out there to be saved."
Authorities warned that the death toll could climb as search-and-rescue workers continued their efforts. Their task was made more miserable early Monday by a new thunderstorm that brought strong winds, heavy rain and hail.
Much of the city's south side has been leveled, with churches, schools, businesses and homes reduced to ruins by winds of up to 198 mph.>1=43001#43139901

Tornado devastates Joplin, Missouri, 116 dead
JOPLIN, MO. - A monster tornado nearly a mile wide killed at least 116 people in Joplin, Missouri when it tore through the heart of the small Midwestern city, ripping the roof off a hospital and destroying thousands of homes and businesses. U.S. weather officials said the tornado that hit the city of 50,000 at dinnertime Sunday was deadliest single tornado in the country since 1953. Emergency officials said on Monday 116 people were killed and about 400 were injured. According to local officials many had massive internal injuries. Seven people have been rescued, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon told a news conference in Joplin. Emergency crews searched through the night and through Monday’s driving rain and thunderstorm for anyone left alive. Storm survivors told harrowing stories of riding out the winds of 190-198 mph in walk-in coolers in restaurants and convenience stores, hiding in bathtubs and closets, and of running for their lives as the tornado bore down. “We were getting hit by rocks and I don’t even know what hit me,” said Leslie Swatosh, 22, who huddled on the floor of a liquor store with several others, holding onto each other and praying. When the tornado passed, the store was destroyed but those who had ducked inside were all alive. “Everyone in that store was blessed. There was nothing of that store left,” she said. More severe storms were predicted for the region, in a year that has brought tornadoes of record intensity across several states. Further complicating the rescue effort, power lines were downed, broken gas lines ignited fires, and cell phone communications were spotty due to 17 toppled phone towers. “We still believe there are folks alive under the rubble and we’re trying hard to reach them,” Nixon said. A number of bodies were found along the city’s “restaurant row,” on the main commercial street and a local nursing home took a direct hit, Newton County Coroner Mark Bridges said. Roaring along a path nearly six miles long and about 1/2 mile to 3/4 mile wide, the tornado flattened whole neighborhoods, splintered trees, flipped cars and trucks upside down and into each other. Some 2,000 homes and many other businesses, schools and other buildings were destroyed.

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