Another deadly tornado — in what is now already considered an extreme and atypical tornado season – slammed into densely populated Joplin, Missouri last night. The massive twister hit neighborhoods and businesses in this city of 50,000 at about 7 p.m. Sunday, leaving at least 116 dead. Officials fear that as rescue workers continue to comb through wreckage this morning, the death toll may rise.
Joplin City Manager, Mark Rohr, told The Associated Press:
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 businesses, homes and restaurants reduced to ruins.
The tornado severely damaged as many as 2,000 buildings, including the offices, stores and restaurants of a busy commercial district, as well as St. John’s Regional Medical Center — a local major hopital with a full patient roster. Pharmacies, gas stations, high schools, occupied churches and cell phone towers were all flattened by the storm.
Joplin officials set up a temporary triage center near the wreckage of a hospital to treat the injured. Generators were brought in to provide light and lumber from a local home improvement store served as makeshift beds.
Parts of the city were unrecognizable, according to Steve Polley, a storm chaser from Kansas City, Missouri, who described the damage as “complete devastation.”
A separate severe weather system spawned a tornado touchdown in the city of Minneapolis earlier on Sunday, killing one person and injuring 22 as it uprooted trees and damaged several blocks of homes.
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