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Deadly tornado rips through Joplin MO, deaths and damage

Picture above shows the damage to St. John’s Regional Medical Center in Joplin, Mo., after it was hit by a tornado on Sunday

A tornado steamrolled across Joplin, Mo., Sunday night, directly hitting a hospital and causing many deaths, according to various reports.

The city, which took a direct hit from the tornado, according to the reports, was left isolated in the destruction, with telephone connections largely cut off.

“The power lines have gone down – we can’t reach anyone there,” said Bill Davis, a meteorologist at the Springfield office of the National Weather Service. He said any assessment of exactly how strong the tornado was will have to wait until tomorrow, when experts drive to Joplin, but he said that on a scale from 1 to 10, the tornado looked to be “on the 8-9 level.”

The News-Leader of Springfield quoted Ryan Nicholls, the head of the local emergency management office, as confirming that there were 24 fatalities. The number of injuries was unknown, the newspaper said. But in a separate call to the office, officials said they were still trying to determine how many fatalities there were.

The storm blew out the windows of St. John’s Regional Medical Center, a large structure on the city’s south side, and swathes of its walls were ripped off.

One Joplin resident, Donald Davis, described to the News-Leader driving through the city, saying that Joplin High School had its windows broken out and part of the roof missing. A church across the street was demolished, he said.

He also described damage to a grocery store, and a large building, the Hampshire Terrace Apartments.

“They’re flattened,” Mr. Davis said. “You just can’t believe it. There must have been 150 units. One lady had a bathrobe around her. Others just had blankets around them.”

Mr. Davis of the National Weather Service said there was a tornado in May 2008 near Joplin that “very much looked like this supercell,” it but missed the city. Still, that tornado, he said, had more than a dozen fatalities.

Check back for updates, photos and videos

Post from The New York Times
Published: May 22, 2011

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