Monday, May 23, 2011



Missouri tornado death toll rises
At least 89 people killed in Joplin after twister damages up to 30% of city

Monday 23 May 2011 12.52 BST

US tornado: Tornado damage to residences in north Minneapolis
A tornado that ripped through the Missouri city of Joplin has killed at least 89 people, with the death toll set to rise as rescuers continue their work, authorities said.
The city manager, Mark Rohr, announced the death toll at a pre-dawn news conference outside the ruins of a hospital that took a direct hit from Sunday's storm. Rohr said the twister cut a path through the centre of the city nearly six miles long and more than half a mile wide.
Much of the city's south side was flattened, with churches, schools, businesses and homes reduced to rubble.
An unknown number of people were injured in the storm, and officials said patients were taken to any nearby hospitals that could take them.
A door-to-door search of the damaged area, to begin on Monday morning, was expected to be hindered by fallen power lines, jagged debris and a series of gas leaks that caused fires around the city overnight.
"We will recover and come back stronger than we are today," Rohr pledged.
Fire chief, Mitch Randles, estimated the tornado had damaged 25% to 30% of the city, which is home to about 50,000 people around 160 miles south of Kansas City.
"It cut the city in half," Randles said.
St John's regional medical centre appeared to take a direct hit. The staff had just moments to move patients into hallways before the storm struck the multistorey building, blowing out hundreds of windows and leaving the facility useless.
In the car park, a helicopter lay crushed on its side, its rotors torn apart.
Triage centres and shelters were set up around Joplin, while emergency management officials rushed heavy equipment to the city to help lift debris and clear the way for search and rescue operations.
The Missouri governor, Jay Nixon, declared a state of emergency. Barack Obama sent condolences to the families of those who died in storms in Joplin and across the midwest.
Jeff Lehr, a reporter for the Joplin Globe, said he was upstairs in his home when the storm hit but was able to get to a basement closet.
"There was a loud huffing noise, my windows started popping. I had to get downstairs, glass was flying. I opened a closet and pulled myself into it," he told the Associated Press.
"Then you could hear everything go. It tore the roof off my house, everybody's house. I came outside and there was nothing left."
In Minneapolis, Minnesota, at least one person was killed and 30 others hurt by a separate tornado. At least 100 homes were damaged, and a joint city-county team was set to begin assessing emergency housing needs.
US tornado: Emergency in a neighborhood damaged by a tornado in Joplin, Missouri
Emergency personnel walk through a neighbourhood severely damaged by a tornado in Joplin, Missouri
US tornado: A destroyed helicopter in the parking lot of the Joplin, Missouri
A helicopter hit by the tornado lies on its side in the parking lot of the Joplin, Missouri

US tornado: Residents in Joplin help a woman after a tornado hit
Residents in Joplin help a woman who survived in her basement after a tornado hit the town

US tornado: People stand near damaged vehicles along Rangeline road in Joplin, Missouri
People stand near damaged vehicles along Rangeline road in Joplin, Missouri

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