Death toll from Missouri tornado rises to 116

JOPLIN, Mo. - (AP) - A massive tornado that tore a six-mile pathacross southwestern Missouri killed at least 116 people as itsmashed the city of Joplin, ripping into a hospital, crushing carsand leaving behind only splintered tree trunks where entireneighborhoods once stood.

City Manager Mark Rohr announced the new death toll at a Mondayafternoon news conference. He said seven people had been rescued,and Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon said he was "optimistic that there arestill lives out there to be saved."

Search and rescue efforts continued throughout the city of50,000 about 160 miles south of Kansas City. Much of its south sidehas been leveled, with churches, schools, businesses and homesreduced to ruins by winds of up to 198 mph.

Jasper County Emergency Management Director Keith Stammer hasestimated about 2,000 buildings were damaged. Joplin Fire ChiefMitch Randles estimated the damage covered a quarter or more of thecity of about 50,000 people some 160 miles south of Kansas City. Hesaid his home was among those destroyed.

An unknown number of people were injured, and officials saidpatients were sent to any nearby hospitals that could take them.

Police officers staffed virtually every major intersectionMonday as ambulances screamed through the streets. Rescuersinvolved in a door-to-door searches moved gingerly around downedpower lines and jagged debris, while survivors picked through therubble of their homes, salvaging clothes, furniture, family photosand financial records, the air pungent with the smell of gas andsmoking embers.

Some neighborhoods were completely flattened and the leavesstripped from trees, giving the landscape an apocalyptic aura. Inothers where structures still stood, families found theirbelongings jumbled as if someone had picked up their homes andshaken them.

Red Cross Information

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