A monster tornado nearly a mile wide killed at least 116 people in Joplin, Missouri, when it tore through the heart of the small Midwestern city, ripping the roof off a hospital and destroying thousands of homes and businesses, local officials said yesterday.
U.S. weather officials said the tornado that hit at dinnertime on Sunday may have been the single deadliest in the country since 1953.
Rescue crews from throughout the region worked all night and battled a driving rain and thunder storm yesterday morning in the town of about 50,000 people, searching for anyone still alive in the rubble.
More than 1,150 people were confirmed injured, many with massive internal injuries, officials said. The number of dead and injured was expected to climb as rescue workers dig through collapsed homes and businesses.
A number of bodies were found along the city’s “restaurant row” on the main commercial street, and a local nursing home took a direct hit, Newton County Coroner Mark Bridges said.
At St. Johns Hospital in Joplin, 180 patients cowered as the fierce winds blew out windows and pulled off the roof. Others took refuge in restaurant coolers, huddled in closets or just ran for their lives.
Roaring along a path nearly six miles long and about 1/2 mile to 3/4 mile wide, it flattened whole neighborhoods, splintered trees, flipped cars and trucks upside down and into each other. Some 2,000 homes and many other businesses, schools and other buildings were destroyed.