Những cơn lốc xoáy lớn liên tiếp xảy ra cuối tuần qua tại các bang
Tại thành phố
Rất nhiều tòa nhà trong thành phố bị phá hủy hoặc hư hại một phần sau khi cơn lốc đi qua. Bệnh viện
Regional và một trường học bị phá hủy hoàn toàn. Lửa và khói bốc lên từ những ngôi nhà bị đổ, trong khi nước tràn ra từ những đường ống bị hỏng. Liên lạc điện thoại tại đây cũng đang tạm thời bị gián đoạn. St. John's
Sau cơn lốc xoáy, người dân
đi giữa những đống đổ nát sau cơn lốc xoáy. Joplin
Hậu quả của thảm họa này khiến nhiều người dân bàng hoàng. Jeff Law, 23 tuổi, kịp trốn vào một căn hầm chống bão, kể lại những gì nhìn thấy với giọng thảng thốt: "Tôi đã sống ở đây từ khi sinh ra, nhưng lúc này tôi chẳng nhìn thấy gì quen thuộc ở đây nữa. Mọi thứ đều trở nên rất khó có thể nhận biết sau cơn lốc. Như thể là ngày tận thế đã đến vậy."
Thống đốc bang Missouri Jay Nixon thông báo tình trạng khẩn cấp toàn bang và huy động quân đội tới khắc phục những thiệt hại to lớn sau cơn lốc xoáy. Ông Nixon cũng cảnh báo khả năng các cơn lốc xoáy khác có thể tiếp tục xảy ra trong vài ngày tới.
Trên đường bay sang châu Âu, Tổng thống Mỹ Barack Obama cũng gửi lời chia buồn sâu sắc nhất của ông tới các nạn nhân, và tuyên bố chính quyền liên bang sẵn sàng giúp đỡ người dân.
Trong dịp cuối tuần qua, có tổng cộng 46 cơn lốc xoáy được ghi nhận tại 7 bang của Mỹ. Trước Missouri, thành phố Reading ở phía đông bang Kansas hôm thứ bảy bị một cơn lốc xoáy tràn qua, khiến một người thiệt mạng và khoảng 80% cơ sở hạ tầng với phần lớn là những tòa nhà khung gỗ bị phá hủy. Trong ngày chủ nhật, một trận gió lốc khác làm chết một người ở
Minneapolis, bang , trong khi 18 người khác bị thương. Minnesota
Các cơn lốc xoáy kể trên xảy ra chỉ chưa đầy một tháng sau khi một trận lốc xoáy quét qua 7 bang của nước Mỹ, khiến 354 người thiệt mạng.
May 25, 2011 12:44 p.m. EDT
- NEW: Death toll is up to 125
- An estimated 1,500 people are still unaccounted for
- Turbulent spring weather has interrupted search efforts more than once
- A tornado warning sent residents in Joplin to shelters again Tuesday night
- Did you experience the tornado in Joplin, Missouri? Send your photos, videos or stories. Tune in at 8 ET Saturday night for CNN Presents' "A Twister's Fury: In the Path of Destruction." CNN shows you how large parts of Joplin, Missouri, were reduced to rubble in minutes, yet hope remains with amazing stories of survival.Joplin, Missouri (CNN) -- Residents of tornado-ravaged Joplin, Missouri, again found themselves huddling in shelters as another round of powerful storms roared across the Plains early Wednesday.
The tornado that struck the community Sunday killed at least 125 people, in what authorities said was the deadliest single U.S. tornado since modern record-keeping began 61 years ago.
Late Tuesday night, the city was briefly under a tornado warning before high winds whipped the area and lightning lit the night sky.
Turbulent spring weather has interrupted search efforts more than once in the three days since the powerful twister flattened a large section of the town of 50,000 people.
- Rescue teams pulled two more people alive from the rubble, Joplin City Manager Mark Rohr said Tuesday. An estimated 750 people have been treated at area hospitals.
Family seeks teen sucked from SUV
Many of those involved in the search have also suffered loss, like Joplin Police Detective Chris Carriger, whose own home was severely damaged in the storm. He kept himself from being sucked out of the house by keeping a tight grip on a bathtub faucet.
"My feet were being actually pulled in the air," he told CNN's Anderson Cooper.
The cleanup continued as forecasters raised their assessment of Sunday's storm, ranking it at the top of the scale used to rate the intensity of tornadoes.
Survivor glad he heeded the sirens for once
The National Weather Service has determined the twister packed top winds of more than 200 mph, making it a 5 on the enhanced Fujita scale, said Bill Davis, the meteorologist who reviewed the damage.
Davis said the tornado left "about six miles of total destruction" in its wake. Examinations of some of the buildings destroyed or damaged convinced forecasters to raise the designation, he said.
- Roughly 8,000 structures within the city of Joplin were damaged, Rohr said, citing a Federal Emergency Management Agency report.
"It's obviously a huge tragedy for the people of Joplin," said Nate Fairbank in a CNN iReport from the scene. "There will be a good deal of mourning for lost loved ones, and even people who escaped with their lives were often left with little else."
A father's vigil for his young son
The vastness of the destruction stunned many.
"The damage has been so extensive, completely devastating the city of Joplin," said iReporter Brandon White. "I've personally witnessed the wrath of many hurricanes. This tornado trumps them all."
"It just looks like a war zone," said resident Eddie Atwood.
See photos of the devastation
"I was walking down Main Street. Everything was so razed over, it was disorienting because some of the streets -- you couldn't even tell where you were at," he said. "After living in Joplin all my life, it was like living in the twilight zone."
The city has imposed an overnight curfew to prevent looting, Joplin Police Chief Lane Roberts said.
"The sole function is to reduce the opportunity for people to loot and steal, and we're hoping the folks who live in that area will cooperate with us," he said.
Open story: Your firsthand views
President Barack Obama announced he will visit the region on Sunday.
- "We are going to do absolutely everything we can to make sure they recover," he said during a visit to London.
Obama has issued a disaster declaration -- expediting the distribution of federal resources to the area.
About 1,500 people remain unaccounted for. But "when we open up the area and start letting them come back in ... that number of unaccounted for will start to dwindle," Joplin Emergency Management Director Keith Stammer said.
Authorities have encouraged people to use the website safeandwell.org, operated by the Red Cross, for updates on loved ones.
How you can help
The tornado that carved through the city is the deadliest to hit American soil since the National Weather Service began keeping records six decades ago. The National Weather Service notes seven deadlier twisters, but says those took place "before the years of comprehensive damage surveys," so they may have been the result of multiple tornadoes.
But the Weather Service does say that the Great Tri-State Tornado of 1925, which tore across southeast Missouri, southern Illinois and southwest Indiana, killed 695 people -- "a record for a single tornado."
- A 1953 twister in Flint, Michigan, killed 116 people, according to the Weather Service.
Last month, two fatal twisters struck Alabama. One hit Hackleburg and the town of Phil Campbell, killing 78 people, and another struck Tuscaloosa and Birmingham, killing 61.
With crews still sifting through rubble, the death toll could continue to climb.
Carriger, the Joplin police detective, said that while the mood across the community was somber, residents didn't let their hope waver.
"The American spirit's there -- it's strong," he said. "We're going to get through this. We just have to bond together."CNN's Chuck Johnston, Joe Sutton, Greg Botelho, Holly Yan, Marlena Baldacci, Mike Pearson, Jessica Jordan, Sean Morris and Barbara Starr contributed to this report.
Tornado chaser: 'I got it on video'
Read more about this story from CNN affiliates KOTV, KSHB and KODE. Share your stories, photos and video with iReport.
Joplin, Missouri (CNN) -- A tornado that chewed through a densely populated area of Joplin, Missouri killed at least 89 people as it tore apart homes and businesses, ripped into a high school and caused severe damage to one of the two hospitals in the city, officials said Monday.
As many as a quarter of the buildings in the southwest Missouri city suffered major or significant damage, fire and emergency management officials said.
Parts of the city were unrecognizable, according to Steve Polley, a storm chaser from Kansas City, Missouri, who described the damage from the Sunday night tornado as "complete devastation."
Joplin Fire Chief Mitch Randles said he believes people were still trapped in buildings Monday morning. Authorities warned the death toll was likely to rise.
Complicating the situation, broken natural gas lines caused fires overnight throughout the city of 50,500, Gov. Jay Nixon said.
"It's going to be a stark view as people see dawn rise in Joplin," he said.
Tornado rips Missouri town apart
Tornado damage in Waverly, Missouri
Tornado devastates neighborhood
We are going to need a lot of help'
The tornado struck shortly before 6 p.m. Sunday. It overturned 10 tractor-trailers on Interstate 44 as it barreled through the town, a major trucking center.
"The particular area that the tornado went through is just like the central portion of the city, and it's very dense in terms of population," Joplin Emergency Management Director Keith Stammer said on CNN's "American Morning."
A 1/2- to 1-mile stretch of the city was affected, including residential and commercial districts, city spokeswoman Lynn Onstot said.
Aerial footage from CNN affiliate KOTV showed houses reduced to lumber and smashed cars sitting atop heaps of wood. Some structures were engulfed in flames.
Amber Gonzales was driving through southwest Missouri when she heard tornado warnings on the radio. She took refuge at a gas station before getting back on the road and seeing the aftermath of what she narrowly missed.
At a shopping center, she saw people pulling people from rubble and rushing them to the hospital as overwhelmed emergency workers were unable to reach everyone in need.
"I saw an older woman taken on the back of a truck bed, speeding down the road," Gonzales said. "I can't get the lady out of my mind. ... I don't know if she made it."
Nixon dispatched a specialized search-and-rescue team to the city, along with 100 National Guard troops and state troopers from other parts of the state. City officials said they were being supported by at least 40 public safety agencies from Kansas, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Missouri.
Mike O'Connell, spokesman for the Missouri Department of Public Safety, said Sunday night that authorities were trying to get additional search-and-rescue teams to the area.
"The priority is to get every available resource there ... as quickly as possible," Onstot said. The Red Cross has established a shelter at Missouri Southern State University in Joplin and was offering shuttle service to bring people there, she said.
St. John's Regional Medical Center in Joplin was hit directly by the tornado and suffered significant structural damage, city officials said. CNN affiliate KSHB said there were reports of fires throughout the hospital.
One facade of the building made of glass was completely blown out, and authorities evacuated the medical center, said Ray Foreman, a meteorologist with CNN affiliate KODE in Joplin. Makeshift triage centers were set up in tents outside, witness Bethany Scutti said.
Missouri governor: 'Total devastation'
Witness: 'We saw power lines snapping'
Tornado damages hospital
Storm chaser: 'Trees are de-barked'
Patients were being evacuated to Springfield, Missouri and other medical centers, officials said.
Residents 70 miles away from Joplin in Dade County, Missouri, found X-rays from St. John's in their driveways, said Foreman, indicating the size and power of the storm.
Pastor Jim Marcum of Citywide Christian Fellowship church said he was delivering a sermon to about 100 people when a man jumped in and said, "It's coming this way."
"I didn't know which was louder, us praying or the wind outside," Marcum said late Sunday. He said those inside the church could feel the pressure of the wind.
"We were praying to be spared. I just thank God," Marcum said.
After the storm left, church members went out to help.
"Every time people would leave and go out to help as part of a search and rescue, people would return and they would be emotional," Marcum said. "We have one couple still at the church late into the night because their home was completely destroyed. They don't have a home to go to."
The tornado was part of a line of severe weather that swept across the Midwest on Sunday, prompting tornado watches and warnings that stretched from Wisconsin to Texas. High winds and possible tornadoes struck Minneapolis and other parts of Minnesota, leaving at least one person dead and injuring nearly two dozen others, police said.
Elsewhere, reports of tornadoes came in from Forest Lake, north of the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, and near Harmony, more than 120 miles to the south. In Minneapolis, witnesses reported numerous downed trees and neighborhoods without power.
Minneapolis police spokeswoman Sara Dietrich said the storm left one fatality, with 22 people reported hurt.
LeDale Davis, who lives on the north side of Minneapolis, told CNN, "This is the first time we can remember a tornado touched down in this area. They aren't usually in the heart of the city."
Ground level view of tornado damage
View from above: Tornado damage
Forecasters said the system that struck Minnesota was separate from another storm that struck eastern Kansas on Saturday, killing one person and damaging or destroying hundreds of homes there.
President Barack Obama issued a statement Sunday night expressing his "deepest condolences to the families of all those who lost their lives in the tornadoes and severe weather that struck Joplin, Missouri, as well as communities across the Midwest today.""We commend the heroic efforts by those who have responded and who are working to help their friends and neighbors at this very difficult time," Obama said. He said the Federal Emergency Management Agency is working with state and local officials to aid in response and recovery efforts.