Sunday, May 22, 2011
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Photo by Laura McCallister
JOPLIN, Mo. (AP) - A massive tornado that tore through the southwest Missouri city of Joplin killed at least 89 people, but authorities warned that the death toll could climb Monday as search and rescuers continued their work at sunrise.
City manager Mark Rohr announced the number of known dead at a pre-dawn news conference outside the wreckage of a hospital that took a direct hit from Sunday's storm. Rohr said the twister cut a path nearly six miles long and more than a half-mile wide through the center of town.
Much of the city's south side was leveled, with churches, schools, businesses and homes reduced to ruins.
Fire chief Mitch Randles estimated that 25 to 30 percent of the city was damaged, and said his own home was among the buildings destroyed as the twister swept through this city of about 50,000 people some 160 miles south of Kansas City.
"It cut the city in half," Randles said.
An unknown number of people were injured in the storm, and officials said patients were scattered to any nearby hospitals that could take them.
A door-to-door search of the damaged area was to begin Monday morning, but authorities were expected to move gingerly around downed power lines, jagged debris and a series of gas leaks that caused fires around the city overnight.