Death Toll From Missouri Tornado Rises To 116

The death toll in Joplin, Mo., rose to 90 today as officials described the monster tornado that hit the city as a

Update: More Than 1,000 People In Joplin Area Have Been Hospitalized Following Tornado

Residents begin digging through the rubble of their home after it was destroyed by a tornado that hit Joplin, Mo., Sunday evening, May 22, 2011.More than 1,150 people have been treated for injuries stemming from the tornado that struck Joplin at 5:30 p.m. Sunday.

Freeman Health System in Joplin treated 467 people in the hours immediately after the tornado struck.

More than 396 people sought treatment for injuries Sunday night at hospitals outside of Joplin. That was continuing on Monday.

One of the busiest hospitals was McCune-Brooks Regional Medical Center at Carthage where officials worked well into the early morning hours treating injured people. A hospital spokeswoman said approximatetly 200 people received some form of laboratory/medical assistance. Another 100 people were walk-ins who were treated in a triage clinic.

Another busy area hospital was Integris Regional Medical Center at Miami, Okla., where 91 people were treated, according to a hospital spokeswoman. Of those, 29 were admitted.

Via Christi Medical Center at Pittsburg, Kan., received 76 people who were either injured or transferred from a Joplin hospital.

Thirty-nine people were treated at Freeman Neosho Hospital.    

Barton County Memorial Hospital at Lamar received 23 injured people. Seven people were admitted there.

Five people drove themselves to Nevada Regional Medical Center where they were treated for minor injuries and released.

Five people sought treatment at Cox Monett Hospital. Of those, three were admitted. A hospital spokeswoman said they were expecting to see more patients today from Joplin.

At Springfield, 90 people were treated at Cox Medical Center. Some of them were admitted, a hospital spokesman said. About 60 people were treated at St. John’s Regional Health Center in Springfield in the hours immediately after the tornado, but an updated count on Monday was not immediately available from a hospital spokesman.

At Tulsa, Okla., six people were admitted at St. Francis Hospital and two were admitted at St. John's Medical Center.

A massive tornado that tore a six-mile path across southwestern Missouri killed at least 116 people as it smashed the city of Joplin, ripping into a hospital, crushing cars and leaving behind only splintered tree trunks where entire neighborhoods once stood.

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

Authorities warned that the death toll could climb as search-and-rescue workers continued their efforts. Their task was made more miserable early Monday by a new thunderstorm that brought strong winds, heavy rain and hail.

Much of the city's south side has been leveled, with churches, schools, businesses and homes reduced to ruins by winds of up to 198 mph.

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

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

Police officers staffed virtually every major intersection as ambulances screamed through the streets. Rescuers involved in a door-to-door searches moved gingerly around downed power lines and jagged debris, while survivors picked through the rubble of their homes, salvaging clothes, furniture, family photos and financial records, the air pungent with the smell of gas and smoking embers.

Some neighborhoods were completely flattened and the leaves stripped from trees, giving the landscape an apocalyptic aura. In others where structures still stood, families found their belongings jumbled as if someone had picked up their homes and shaken them.

Nixon had said earlier that he feared the death toll would rise but expected survivors to be found in the rubble.

"I don't think we're done counting," Nixon told The Associated Press, adding, "I still believe that because of the size of the debris and the number of people involved that there are lives to be saved."

The National Weather Service's director, Jack Hayes, says the storm was given a preliminary label as an EF4 — the second-highest rating given to twisters. The rating is assigned to storms based on the damage they cause. Hayes said the storm had winds of 190 to 198 miles per hour. At times, the storm was three-quarters of a mile wide.

Crews found bodies in vehicles the storm had flipped over, torn apart and left crushed like empty cans. Triage centers and temporary shelters quickly filled to capacity. At Memorial Hall, a downtown entertainment venue, emergency workers treated critically injured patients.

At another makeshift unit at a Lowe's home-improvement store, wooden planks served as beds. Outside, ambulances and fire trucks waited for calls. In the early hours of the morning, emergency vehicles were scrambling nearly every two minutes.


ABC News