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UPDATE: Officials say Joplin tornado death toll rises to 125

Wednesday, May 25, 2011 | 6:34 p.m. CDT; updated 3:07 p.m. CDT, Saturday, May 28, 2011

JOPLIN — Rescue crews refused to be deterred Wednesday even as Joplin officials said no new survivors were pulled from the rubble left by behind the single deadliest tornado in decades and the death toll rose to at least 125.

More than 900 people also were injured by a mighty twister the National Weather Service said was an EF-5, the strongest rating assigned to tornadoes, with winds of more than 200 mph. But officials in the southwest Missouri city of 50,000 people said they're holding out hope for more rescues.

"We never give up. We're not going to give up," City Manager Mark Rohr told an evening news conference. "We'll continue to search as we develop the next phase in the process."

Roughly 100 people were meanwhile reviewing information about people reported missing in the storm's wake. Rohr said they're making progress in sorting through the list of names, but declined to say how many people remain "unaccounted for."

He said officials plan to release the names of the 125 people killed "as soon as we can."

The Joplin tornado was the deadliest single twister since the weather service began keeping official records in 1950 and the eighth-deadliest in U.S. history. Scientists said it appeared to be a rare "multivortex" tornado, with two or more small and intense centers of rotation orbiting the larger funnel.

Bill Davis, the lead forecaster on a National Weather Service survey team, said he would need to look at video to try to confirm that. But he said the strength of the tornado was evident from the many stout buildings that were damaged: St. John's Regional Medical Center, Franklin Technology Center, a bank gone except for its vault, a Pepsi bottling plant and "numerous, and I underscore numerous, well-built residential homes that were basically leveled."

Davis' first thought on arriving in town to do the survey, he said, was, "Where do you start?"


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