116 Confirmed Dead in Joplin; Rescue Search Continues Amid Downpour

May 23, 2011

JOPLIN, Mo. – Rescue crews in Joplin are continuing to make a block by block search for survivors of last night's deadly tornado. So far officials have confirmed 116 dead, with more expected.

KCUR's Dan Verbeck is in Joplin and says rescuers are searching an 80 square block area. The weather, he says, isn't helping.

"Since about noon it's been a steady downpour of heavy rain, and it's making it really hard for people search house by house and rubble to see if anyone is still alive or to bring out the dead," says Verbeck.

The mile-wide tornado leveled about 2,000 structures, including St. John's Regional Medical Center. The tornado also destroyed three school buildings and damaged others.

The federal government has declared Jasper and Newton counties disaster areas.