Search continues for 232 still missing in tornado's aftermath

A A A

Four days after America's deadliest tornado for six decades tore through this town, levelling buildings, tossing cars and peeling bark from every tree in its path, 232 people were still missing, officials said yesterday. The official death toll stood at 125.

The authorities appeared overwhelmed with the task of scouring the tornado's path – an area six miles long and nearly a mile wide – for survivors and victims, while drawing up lists of the dead and missing. With blocked streets and neighbourhoods strewn with impenetrable layers of wreckage, it remained impossible to determine whether all the dead had been found or if some survivors were still trapped.

"Look, that's my roof over there. There could be someone under there right now. I don't know," Jason Hobson, 36, said. He and his wife, Khya, rummaged through his house for belongings. With no roof and two outside walls missing, the home sits now in a sea of jumbled bricks, snapped tree limbs, steel sheeting and crumpled cars.

The city remains unable to give up the task of searching for survivors. "I am hopeful," the Joplin fire chief Mitch Randles said. "We've had stories from earthquakes and tsunamis and other disasters of people being found two or three weeks later, and we are hopeful we'll have a story like that to tell."

Part of the frustration for many families has been the fluctuating numbers of missing persons, which until yesterday had stood at 1,500. The figure was cut down to 232 as more people, many of whom fled town, have checked in with the authorities.

"Our goal is to get that number to zero," Andrea Spillars, deputy director of the state's Department of Public Safety, told reporters in a morning news conference. "We will dedicate as much state resources as needed around the clock to ensure those families who have loved ones that they cannot find are connected."

Among those still missing was Will Norton, the young man sucked through the sunroof of his father's Hummer as they drove home from a High School graduation ceremony late on Sunday afternoon. They were just short of the relative safety of their home when the tornado hit.

Finally finding someone can, of course, mean confirming a worst fear. A 16-month-old boy, Skyular Logsdon, who was ripped from his mother's arms during the tornado, was found dead in the area, his father confirmed just yesterday. The disappearance of the infant had made headlines worldwide.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Photographer / Floorplanner / Domestic Energy Assessor

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Photographer/ Floor planner /...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Surrey - £40,000

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Guildford/Craw...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Assistant

£13500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Assistant is...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £35,000

£16000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ambitious and motivated Sale...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence