Joplin, Mo. – [Updated: June 9, 2011: 151 people died from injuries. More than 900 people were injured in the storm.] Authorities say at least 89 have died in the massive tornado that struck Joplin. City manager Mark Rohr announced the number at a pre-dawn news conference outside the wreckage of a hospital that took a direct hit from Sunday's storm. Rohr said the twister cut a path nearly six miles long and more than a half-mile wide through the center of town.
From ten miles east of Joplin, you begin seeing the effects of the tornado. Tree lines, fence lines covered with debris, pieces of houses, pieces of buildings, cars overturned. As you get closer into the city, population 45,000, it is utter chaos this morning.
A truck stop off of Highway 71 has been virtually destroyed. Right across the street from it a fireworks warehouse, untouched. Across the street from that, houses torn up, trees down. The southern third of the city has been pretty much flattened by the tornado.
The disaster has brought in search and rescue teams from around the Midwest. Kansas City, Missouri sent a rescue team last night. There is still a call out for trained medical personnel. The tornado hit the top floors of a hospital, the regional medical center. There were people injured there, transferred to other hospitals around the region.
As the search continues through the basements and the flattened houses, it's going to be tougher because of storms coming in from the west.