Chicago, May 24: A devastating tornado killed at least 116 people in US’ Joplin city in the state of Missouri, and left over 2,000 homes in ruins, officials said. President Barack Obama has extended his condolences to the families of the city.
Officials at the Springfield-Greene county emergency management confirmed the toll Monday afternoon in Joplin, a city of 50,000 people, Xinhua reported.
The toll in the tornado that began Sunday night stood at 89 Monday morning.
Missouri officials said the toll was expected to climb as search and rescue continue.
Many people were injured and were admitted to hospitals.
The tornado touched down into the heart of the city at around 6 p.m. Sunday, destroying hundreds of buildings.
Winds of up to 260 km per hour destroyed nearly 2,000 buildings, Jasper County emergency management officials said.
The tornado also cut a path nearly 10 km long and more than a kilometre wide near the city.
Besides, a series of gas leaks caused fires around the city overnight.
The city’s residents were given about 20 minutes notice with tornado warning sirens before the tornado touched down on the west side.
But many people were unable to get to shelters in time, as ‘the storm was so loud you probably couldn’t hear the sirens going off’, said Missouri Governor Jay Nixon.
The governor has declared a state of emergency and called out the Missouri National Guard to help.
Authorities began a door-to-door search Monday. But the task was difficult as strong winds and heavy rain continued to torment the city.
Obama has called the governor to ‘extend his condolences’ to the families of Joplin.
Last month, tornadoes killed over 300 people and caused more than $2 billion in damages to the US southern states. More than 200 people were killed in Alabama alone.