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Monster tornado kills 89

world Updated: May 24, 2011 02:14 IST

At least 89 people have died in a monster tornado that left a path of destruction nearly a kilometre wide through the heart of Joplin, Missouri, and directly hit the small Midwestern city’s main hospital.

US weather officials said the tornado that hit at dinnertime on Sunday it may have been the single deadliest in the country since 1953. Rescue crews from throughout the region worked all night and into Monday morning in the town of about 50,000 people, searching for anyone still alive in the rubble.

The tornado blew the roof off St John’s hospital where about 180 patients cowered, and some 2,000 homes and other buildings were destroyed. It flattened whole neighbourhoods, splintered trees, flipped cars and trucks upside down and into each other. The city’s residents were given about 20 minutes notice when 25 warning sirens sounded throughout the southwest Missouri town, said Jasper County Emergency Management Director Keith Stammers.

“The bottom line was the storm was so loud you probably couldn’t hear the sirens going off,” Missouri Governor Jay Nixon said.