UPDATED Wednesday at 8:50 a.m.: The death toll from the devastating tornado that tore through Joplin, Missouri, continues to rise and now stands at least 122, authorities say. Another 750 people have been injured.
The search for the missing has been slowed by bad weather but city leaders say they are refusing to lose hope as rescuers on Wednesday morning began to cover ground that has been searched three times already, the Associated Press reports.
“We are still in a search-and-rescue mode,” said Mark Rohr, Joplin’s city manager. “I want to emphasize that.”
The town was largely spared by the latest round of violent storms that hit the central U.S. Tuesday evening, which killed at least eight more people across the country.
UPDATED Tuesday at 2:15 p.m.: The battered town of Joplin, Missouri, could be hit again by another round of storms Tuesday night, which would undoubtedly further slow the efforts of local authorities searching for survivors.
“We are expecting some violent storms to develop across Kansas and Oklahoma today bringing rain, hail and the risk of tornadoes that could move into the Joplin area this evening,” National Weather Service meteorologist Doug Cramer told the New York Times on Tuesday. “This is a very good set up for very big tornadoes.”
UPDATED Tuesday at 10:40 a.m.: The latest official tally of confirmed dead in Joplin, Missouri, now stands at 117, local authorities announced Tuesday, making the tornado that leveled much of the city the single deadliest in U.S. history since modern record-keeping began more than a half-century ago.
CNN reports that state officials expect that the death toll to continue to tick upwards as rescuers continue to search the rubble for survivors.
The devastating storm injured an additional 500 people and damaged or destroyed an estimated 2,000 buildings. The Washington Post reports that the Joplin tornado was a rare “mult-vortex,” meaning that it was hiding at least two cyclones within the wider wind funnel.
President Obama, meanwhile, plans to visit the region on Sunday, a day after he returns from his current six-day trip to Europe. "All we can do is let them know that all of America cares deeply about them and that we are going to do absolutely everything we can to make sure that they recover," he said Tuesday.
The president made a similar trip late last month to Alabama to get a firsthand look at the damage inflicted by a historic tornado outbreak that killed more than 300 people across the South.
Updated Monday at 4:21 p.m.: As feared, the death toll for Joplin, Missouri, continued to climb on Monday. The latest tally of confirmed dead now stands at 116, the Associated Press reports.
Original Post Monday at 9:51 a.m.: Eighty-nine people and counting have been confirmed dead in Joplin, Missouri, after one of the deadliest tornadoes in state history tore a 6-mile path across the southwestern part of the state on Sunday.
The twister is estimated to have been a half-mile across when it hit the town, destroying much of the city and ripping the roof off its hospital.
“It is just utter devastation anywhere you look to the south and the east—businesses, apartment complexes, houses, cars, trees, schools, you name it, it is leveled, leveled,” Joplin City Councilwoman Melodee Cobert-Kean told Reuters.
The death toll is expected to climb Monday as local officials conduct a door-to-door search of the damaged area, the Associated Press reports. The process was expected to be slowed by downed power lines and a series of gas leaks that caused fires across the city overnight.
“You see pictures of World War II, the devastation and all that with the bombing. That’s really what it looked like,” Kerry Sachetta, the principal of a local high school that was destroyed, told the AP. “I couldn’t even make out the side of the building. It was total devastation in my view. I just couldn’t believe what I saw.”
The Joplin tornado was one of 68 reported across seven Midwest states over the weekend, according to the National Weather Service.