Joplin (US), May 24 (AP) A massive tornado that tore a 10-kilometre path across the central state of Missouri killed at least 116 people as it smashed a small city, ripping into a hospital, crushing cars and leaving behind only splintered tree trunks where entire neighbourhoods once stood.
Joplin City Manager Mark Rohr announced the new death toll yesterday afternoon news conference. He said seven people had been rescued, and Missouri Governor 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 yesterday by a new thunderstorm that brought strong winds, heavy rain and hail.
Much of the city's south side has been levelled, with churches, schools, businesses and homes reduced to ruins by winds of up to 318 kph.