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May 24th, 2011
08:30 PM ET

Deadly tornado kills 124, leaves 'twilight zone' in its wake

Joplin, Missouri (CNN) - The tornado that struck Joplin, Missouri, Sunday killed 124 people, authorities said Tuesday, in what was the deadliest single U.S. tornado since modern record-keeping began 61 years ago.

An estimated 750 people have been treated at area hospitals, said Joplin City Manager Mark Rohr, who told residents of the tornado-ravaged town to be prepared in case a new wave of dangerous storms strikes later Tuesday.

On a brighter note, rescue workers pulled two more people alive from the rubble within the last 24 hours, Rohr said.

Also Tuesday, forecasters raised their assessment of the Sunday storm, ranking it at the top of the scale used to rate tornadoes.

The National Weather Service has determined the twister packed top winds of more than 200 mph, making it a 5 on the enhanced Fujita scale, said Bill Davis, the meteorologist who reviewed the damage.

Davis said the tornado left "about six miles of total destruction" in its wake. Examinations of some of the buildings destroyed or damaged convinced forecasters to raise the designation, he said.

Roughly 8,000 structures within the city of Joplin sustained damaged, Rohr said, citing a Federal Emergency Management Agency report. A previous estimate had put the number of buildings damaged or destroyed at 2,000.

Among the dead in Joplin were 10 residents and a staff member at a nursing home, a company official said.

Two other staffers at Greenbriar Nursing Home are in critical condition at a hospital, said the home's vice president, Bill Mitchell.

Of the other 79 residents of the home, all but one are accounted for, he said. Only rubble remains and survivors have been moved to temporary housing or are with family members.

"It just looks like a war zone," said Eddie Atwood in a CNN iReport from the scene. From where he stood, Atwood said, "You could see all the way to the horizon because all the houses and all the trees were just leveled."

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Filed under: 360° Radar • 360º Follow • Weather
soundoff (4 Responses)
  1. Clarence Williams

    Is there a list of names of the deceased & Injured people from the Joplin tornado that is available to the public? Have been trying to contact a very close friend & former employer that lives there & have been unable to make contact

    May 24, 2011 at 10:51 pm |
  2. Juan

    My heart is with the families. Yet, I wonder if the government should revise construction codes to make homes and bulidings sturdier and safer for people. God Bless.

    May 24, 2011 at 10:37 pm |
  3. Mary

    Anderson, please take shelter in JOplin. You are not setting a good example for everyone! Watching you on the evening news rt now.

    May 24, 2011 at 10:29 pm |
  4. Victoria Collins

    Our hearts go out to the tornado victims in Joplin, MO. Many friends and family of my fiancee live there as he moved from there two years ago. Our prayers are with them and waiting to coem in with our truck this weekend and help them move rubble.

    May 24, 2011 at 10:27 pm |