Missouri Archives:

DE SOTO, MISSOURI (BNO NEWS) — Police in eastern Missouri are investigating the discovery of four bodies after a mother apparently shot her three young daughters in the head before killing herself on steps leading to the front door of her ex-boyfriend’s residence, officials said.

The four bodies were discovered on early Thursday morning in front of a residence in an area about 4.3 miles (6.9 kilometers) southwest of De Soto, a city in southern Jefferson County. The discovery was made by police officers after the ex-boyfriend of one of the victims called police.

Jefferson County Sheriff Glenn Boyer said three young girls were found dead inside a vehicle which was parked in the front yard of the residence. “A 32-year-old female was discovered a short distance away at the steps leading up to the porch of the front door to the residence,” he said. “All had suffered gunshot wounds to the head.”

Boyer said investigators are treating the incident as a murder-suicide, based on a preliminary investigation. He said the mother, identified as 32-year-old Lisa Cochran, had emailed family members, friends and her ex-boyfriend at 7:54 p.m. local time on Wednesday to say goodbye.

“The header on the email began with ‘Goodbye’ and made several references in the email about not being able to take it no more and the lives of four people,” Boyer told reporters during a news conference. “That information, the purchase of the shotgun, and compiling everything we have so far, leads us to believe that we’re dealing with a murder-suicide and not a homicide.”

It is believed that none of the woman’s family members, friends or the ex-boyfriend read the email before the incident. “We don’t have any indication that the people that received the email received it in time to where they could react to it,” Boyer said. “I mean how many of us check our email after 8 o’clock at night?”

Cochran had purchased the shotgun at a Walmart store in Arnold, Missouri, on August 29. “It was purchased by Lisa Cochran. We have investigators in Arnold now that are trying to recover the receipt and possibly, if it still exists, the in-store video of the purchase,” the sheriff explained.

The ex-boyfriend of the woman made the discovery of the crime scene but did not approach the vehicle or his house because Cochran had a court order against him. “He did not want to violate that court order, that’s the reason he didn’t drive up into that driveway when he saw her van there,” Boyer said.

“He simply backed out, contacted us, we responded back to the residence with him, and the officer went up to the van,” the sheriff added. “Unfortunately expecting to see her in the van, probably wanting to get some clothes which is common in these types of incidents, instead he was met with the three deceased children and located her a short distance away.”

The woman’s ex-boyfriend was interviewed by investigators and later released. “At this point in time we haven’t totally cleared anybody. He was never a suspect, he was a witness,” Boyer said. “I have to say that he was a very outgoing witness, he was very cooperative and gave us no indication that he was involved but we’re still in the middle of this investigation. We have a long way to go.”

The three children were identified as 22-month-old Faith Ehlen, 10-year-old Autumn Cochran, and 11-year-old Alyssa Cochran. The woman was the mother of all three children, but the ex-boyfriend was the father of only one of them. The two older girls are believed to be from a previous marriage.

It was not immediately known why the woman had a court order against her ex-boyfriend, but Boyer said his office was not aware of any incidents between them. “She probably went directly to the prosecutor’s office to obtain this court order,” he said. “There’s a good chance we were not involved at all.”

It was also not immediately known how long the two had been separated and how long they previously lived together. “It is my understanding she was currently living with her parents, and I have no idea how long she had been living together with her estranged boyfriend prior to moving out,” Boyer said.

(Copyright 2012 by BNO News B.V. All rights reserved. Info: sales@bnonews.com.)

JOPLIN, MISSOURI (BNO NEWS) — Missouri Governor Jay Nixon on Tuesday announced that the federal government will pay for 90 percent of the cost of expedited debris removal in parts of the Joplin area that received catastrophic or extensive damage from the devastating tornado.

Nixon made the announcement at the National Guard Armory in Joplin and said he received word on late Monday evening that the state application for the federal funding for the expedited debris removal had been approved by President Barack Obama.

“As I have said from the start, we will rebuild Joplin,” Nixon said. “That is why I ordered the Missouri National Guard to lead the process of removing debris as soon as possible and to work with families and business owners to facilitate debris removal from their property. I have met personally with Brig. Gen. John McMahon, commander of the Northwest Division of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; Col. Ward; and other leaders of Task Force Phoenix to discuss their mission and the importance of clearing this debris so that we can move forward with rebuilding Joplin as quickly as possible.”

The federal funding will help with the expedited removal of millions of cubic yards of debris from the location of homes, businesses and other buildings in Joplin. Nixon has ordered the Missouri National Guard to serve as the state’s point agency on the debris removal process. Maj. General Stephen L. Danner, Adjutant General of Missouri, has assigned Col. Ward to lead Task Force Phoenix in that effort.

“The Missouri National Guard has been working non-stop to respond to this disaster from the first day, and this 90 percent federal funding will be of great assistance as we work through the challenge of removing a vast amount of debris and rebuilding this community,” the Governor said.

The federal debris removal program is administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), with the assistance of the Corps of Engineers. It addresses debris removal in communities within, or immediately adjacent to, areas of catastrophic or extensive damage. Before debris removal teams can go onto private property, property owners will have to give their permission. FEMA will determine the degree of destruction by using a combination of mapping and information from local, state and federal officials who have surveyed the damage first-hand.

As of Tuesday, a total of 123 individuals in Joplin have been confirmed as deceased by Missouri state officials. Ten people remain unaccounted for, and hundreds are still recovering in hospitals.

(Copyright 2012 by BNO News B.V. All rights reserved. Info: sales@bnonews.com.)

JOPLIN, MISSOURI (BNO NEWS) — The number of people who are still unaccounted for after a violent tornado ripped through the Missouri city of Joplin has dropped to 10, state officials said on Tuesday, adding that more than 120 people have been confirmed deceased.

The powerful EF-5 tornado touched down on May 22 and tore through the city for several miles (kilometers), leaving a path of destruction about three quarters of a mile (1.2 kilometer) wide. Up to 30 percent of the city was estimated to have been destroyed.

As of Tuesday evening, the Missouri Department of Public Safety reported that the number of persons unaccounted for as a result of the tornado now stands at 10, which is down from 29 on Tuesday. Some of the 10 missing may be among the remains which have been found but not yet identified.

So far, state officials said a total of 123 individuals have been confirmed as deceased and their next-of-kin have been notified. The youngest victim has been identified as 1-year-old Hayze Howard of Webb City, while the eldest victim has been identified as 94-year-old Nancy E. Douthitt of Joplin.

“As of today, the number of unaccounted for individuals has been reduced to 10, from 232 on May 26, and our 24-hour a day effort continues,” said Department of Public Safety Deputy Director Andrea Spillars, adding that the state is also monitoring postings on Facebook and other social media websites for information about those unaccounted for.

The names of unaccounted for individuals are also being cross-referenced with all hospitals that admitted or treated patients injured during the tornado, shelters housing tornado survivors, applicants for disaster assistance and the Red Cross Safe and Well program. Additionally, the Department of Public Safety is working with cell phone service providers to check whether cell phones have been used by individuals who have been unaccounted for since their names were added to the list.

The tornado disaster in Joplin, which President Barack Obama on Sunday described as a national tragedy, is the deadliest single tornado in the United States since modern record-keeping began in 1950.

(Copyright 2012 by BNO News B.V. All rights reserved. Info: sales@bnonews.com.)

JOPLIN, MISSOURI (BNO NEWS) — The number of people who are still unaccounted for after a violent tornado ripped through the Missouri city of Joplin has dropped to 29, state officials said on Monday.

The powerful EF-5 tornado touched down on May 22 and tore through the city for several miles (kilometers), leaving a path of destruction about three quarters of a mile (1.2 kilometer) wide. Up to 30 percent of the city was estimated to have been destroyed.

As of Monday evening, the official death toll remains at 139 while nearly 1,000 others have been injured. “The number of unaccounted-for individuals has been reduced from 232 to 29 since the Department of Public Safety was directed by Governor Jay Nixon to take charge of locating all unaccounted-for individuals,” said Department of Public Safety Deputy Director Andrea Spillars.

The department said that, of the 232 people who were on the initial list which was released on Thursday, 140 people have been located while 35 additional missing person reports have been filed. Four other persons have been confirmed to have been reported on the list twice or under different names.

“The 24-7 effort of working with local and federal partners, and the public, is responsible for this reduction since May 26, and our work will not cease until the number of unaccounted-for individuals is zero,” Spillars added. “The department and its agencies – the Highway Patrol and [the Missouri State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA)] – are committed to continuing to devote all available resources to this mission, which we consider our top priority.”

Spillars said that those involved in the effort to account for all individuals are encouraged by the fact that 140 persons who were once unaccounted-for have now been reported to be located. While 29 people are officially unaccounted for, the department said that the families of three people on the list have reported them as deceased. The official identification process for them has not yet been completed, however.

As of Monday, the next-of-kin of 101 of the 139 victims have been notified. The youngest victim has been identified as 1-year-old Hayze Howard of Webb City, while the eldest victim was identified as 94-year-old Nancy E. Douthitt of Joplin.

The tornado disaster in Joplin, which President Barack Obama on Sunday described as a national tragedy, is the deadliest single tornado in the United States since modern record-keeping began in 1950.

(Copyright 2012 by BNO News B.V. All rights reserved. Info: sales@bnonews.com.)

JOPLIN, MISSOURI (BNO NEWS) — U.S. President Barack Obama on Sunday traveled to the Missouri city of Joplin, where a violent tornado killed nearly 140 people and injured nearly 1,000 others earlier this month.

Recovery operations that began on May 22 when the EF-5 tornado ripped through the city are still continuing in an effort to find nearly 40 people who remain unaccounted for. It is the deadliest single tornado in the United States since modern record-keeping began in 1950.

Obama arrived at Joplin Regional Airport at around 12.22 p.m. local time after Air Force One flew over the city. “From the air, it looked as if a massive bulldozer drove straight through the center of town,” one reporter who was aboard Air Force One said.

After deplaning, the president was greeted by Missouri Governor Jay Nixon and his wife, as well as U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, Joplin Mayor Mike Woolston, and other state and federal officials.

Obama soon witnessed the disaster from the ground after a short motorcade ride. “Main Street’s signs were missing as we got closer,” one reporter traveling with the president said. “The damage is unreal. Fields of debris where there were houses. Tree trunks, missing their branches are white where the bark was stripped.”

After arriving in the hard hit area, Obama spoke with a woman in front of a house of which only the chimney, adorned with an American flag, and part of the foundation remained. “Obviously the scene speaks for itself,” Obama told reporters. “When we were in Tuscaloosa a few weeks ago, I talked about how I had not seen devastation like that in my lifetime. You come here to Joplin and it is just as heartbreaking and in some ways even more devastating.”

“The main thing I just want to communicate to the people of Joplin is this is just not your tragedy,” the president said. “This is a national tragedy and that means there will be a national response. [..] We’re going to do everything we can to continue whatever search and rescue remains. We are doing everything we can to make sure that folks get the shelter that they need, the support that they need.”

Obama has emphasized several times that the federal government will continue to help rebuild Joplin after the news media leaves. “We are not going to stop until Joplin is fully back on its feet,” he said as he toured the disaster area.

The president said it was ‘incredible’ how volunteers have come to help from as far away as Texas. “It’s an example of what the American spirit is all about. And that gives us a lot of encouragement at a time when obviously people are going through a lot of hardship,” he added.

Obama also urged all Americans to make a contribution to the American Red Cross or other charitable organizations which are active in Joplin. “That can make an enormous difference,” he said, recognizing that many victims have lost their entire homes and means of transportation. “Even if it’s just $5, $10, whatever you’ve got to spare — because one of the things that’s striking about this — and I felt the same way when I was down in Alabama — this can happen to anybody. The difference between you being in the path of this twister and a few blocks away, you being okay, is a very slim, slim margin.”

After touring the area, Obama spoke briefly at a memorial service which was held at the Missouri Southern University. “I was overseas in the aftermath of the storm, and had world leaders coming up to me saying, let the people of Joplin know we are with them; we’re thinking about them; we love them. Because the world saw how Joplin responded,” Obama told the audience.

The president focused his brief remarks on the people who gave their lives to save others, such as 26-year-old Christopher Lucas who was working as manager on duty at Pizza Hut. When the sirens went, Lucas ushered everybody into the company’s walk-in freezer.

“The only problem was, the freezer door wouldn’t stay closed from the inside. So as the tornado bore down on this small storefront on Range Line Road, Christopher left the freezer to find a rope or a cord or anything to hold the door shut,” Obama said. “He made it back just in time, tying a piece of bungee cord to the handle outside, wrapping the other end around his arm, holding the door closed with all his might. And Christopher held it as long as he could, until he was pulled away by the incredible force of the storm. He died saving more than a dozen people in that freezer.”

As of late Sunday, Missouri state officials said at least 139 people have been killed while nearly 1,000 others have been injured. A total of 39 people remain unaccounted for, but some are believed to be among the fatalities who have not yet been identified.

(Copyright 2012 by BNO News B.V. All rights reserved. Info: sales@bnonews.com.)

JOPLIN, MISSOURI (BNO NEWS) — U.S. President Barack Obama on Sunday traveled to the Missouri city of Joplin, where a violent tornado killed nearly 140 people and injured nearly 1,000 others earlier this month.

Recovery operations that began on May 22 when the EF-5 tornado ripped through the city are still continuing in an effort to find nearly 40 people who remain unaccounted for. It is the deadliest single tornado in the United States since modern record-keeping began in 1950.

Obama arrived at Joplin Regional Airport at around 12.22 p.m. local time after Air Force One flew over the city. “From the air, it looked as if a massive bulldozer drove straight through the center of town,” one reporter who was aboard Air Force One said.

After deplaning, the president was greeted by Missouri Governor Jay Nixon and his wife, as well as U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, Joplin Mayor Mike Woolston, and other state and federal officials.

Obama soon witnessed the disaster from the ground after a short motorcade ride. “Main Street’s signs were missing as we got closer,” one reporter traveling with the president said. “The damage is unreal. Fields of debris where there were houses. Tree trunks, missing their branches are white where the bark was stripped.”

After arriving in the hard hit area, Obama spoke with a woman in front of a house of which only the chimney, adorned with an American flag, and part of the foundation remained. “Obviously the scene speaks for itself,” Obama told reporters. “When we were in Tuscaloosa a few weeks ago, I talked about how I had not seen devastation like that in my lifetime. You come here to Joplin and it is just as heartbreaking and in some ways even more devastating.”

“The main thing I just want to communicate to the people of Joplin is this is just not your tragedy,” the president said. “This is a national tragedy and that means there will be a national response. [..] We’re going to do everything we can to continue whatever search and rescue remains. We are doing everything we can to make sure that folks get the shelter that they need, the support that they need.”

Obama has emphasized several times that the federal government will continue to help rebuild Joplin after the news media leaves. “We are not going to stop until Joplin is fully back on its feet,” he said as he toured the disaster area.

The president said it was ‘incredible’ how volunteers have come to help from as far away as Texas. “It’s an example of what the American spirit is all about. And that gives us a lot of encouragement at a time when obviously people are going through a lot of hardship,” he added.

Obama also urged all Americans to make a contribution to the American Red Cross or other charitable organizations which are active in Joplin. “That can make an enormous difference,” he said, recognizing that many victims have lost their entire homes and means of transportation. “Even if it’s just $5, $10, whatever you’ve got to spare — because one of the things that’s striking about this — and I felt the same way when I was down in Alabama — this can happen to anybody. The difference between you being in the path of this twister and a few blocks away, you being okay, is a very slim, slim margin.”

After touring the area, Obama spoke briefly at a memorial service which was held at the Missouri Southern University. “I was overseas in the aftermath of the storm, and had world leaders coming up to me saying, let the people of Joplin know we are with them; we’re thinking about them; we love them. Because the world saw how Joplin responded,” Obama told the audience.

The president focused his brief remarks on the people who gave their lives to save others, such as 26-year-old Christopher Lucas who was working as manager on duty at Pizza Hut. When the sirens went, Lucas ushered everybody into the company’s walk-in freezer.

“The only problem was, the freezer door wouldn’t stay closed from the inside. So as the tornado bore down on this small storefront on Range Line Road, Christopher left the freezer to find a rope or a cord or anything to hold the door shut,” Obama said. “He made it back just in time, tying a piece of bungee cord to the handle outside, wrapping the other end around his arm, holding the door closed with all his might. And Christopher held it as long as he could, until he was pulled away by the incredible force of the storm. He died saving more than a dozen people in that freezer.”

As of late Sunday, Missouri state officials said at least 139 people have been killed while nearly 1,000 others have been injured. A total of 39 people remain unaccounted for, but some are believed to be among the fatalities who have not yet been identified.

(Copyright 2011 by BNO News B.V. All rights reserved. Info: sales@bnonews.com.)

JOPLIN, MISSOURI (BNO NEWS) — U.S. President Barack Obama on Sunday traveled to the Missouri city of Joplin, where a violent tornado killed nearly 140 people and injured nearly 1,000 others earlier this month.

Recovery operations that began on May 22 when the EF-5 tornado ripped through the city are still continuing in an effort to find nearly 40 people who remain unaccounted for. It is the deadliest single tornado in the United States since modern record-keeping began in 1950.

Obama arrived at Joplin Regional Airport at around 12.22 p.m. local time after Air Force One flew over the city. “From the air, it looked as if a massive bulldozer drove straight through the center of town,” one reporter who was aboard Air Force One said.

After deplaning, the president was greeted by Missouri Governor Jay Nixon and his wife, as well as U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, Joplin Mayor Mike Woolston, and other state and federal officials.

Obama soon witnessed the disaster from the ground after a short motorcade ride. “Main Street’s signs were missing as we got closer,” one reporter traveling with the president said. “The damage is unreal. Fields of debris where there were houses. Tree trunks, missing their branches are white where the bark was stripped.”

After arriving in the hard hit area, Obama spoke with a woman in front of a house of which only the chimney, adorned with an American flag, and part of the foundation remained. “Obviously the scene speaks for itself,” Obama told reporters. “When we were in Tuscaloosa a few weeks ago, I talked about how I had not seen devastation like that in my lifetime. You come here to Joplin and it is just as heartbreaking and in some ways even more devastating.”

“The main thing I just want to communicate to the people of Joplin is this is just not your tragedy,” the president said. “This is a national tragedy and that means there will be a national response. [..] We’re going to do everything we can to continue whatever search and rescue remains. We are doing everything we can to make sure that folks get the shelter that they need, the support that they need.”

Obama has emphasized several times that the federal government will continue to help rebuild Joplin after the news media leaves. “We are not going to stop until Joplin is fully back on its feet,” he said as he toured the disaster area.

The president said it was ‘incredible’ how volunteers have come to help from as far away as Texas. “It’s an example of what the American spirit is all about. And that gives us a lot of encouragement at a time when obviously people are going through a lot of hardship,” he added.

Obama also urged all Americans to make a contribution to the American Red Cross or other charitable organizations which are active in Joplin. “That can make an enormous difference,” he said, recognizing that many victims have lost their entire homes and means of transportation. “Even if it’s just $5, $10, whatever you’ve got to spare — because one of the things that’s striking about this — and I felt the same way when I was down in Alabama — this can happen to anybody. The difference between you being in the path of this twister and a few blocks away, you being okay, is a very slim, slim margin.”

After touring the area, Obama spoke briefly at a memorial service which was held at the Missouri Southern University. “I was overseas in the aftermath of the storm, and had world leaders coming up to me saying, let the people of Joplin know we are with them; we’re thinking about them; we love them. Because the world saw how Joplin responded,” Obama told the audience.

The president focused his brief remarks on the people who gave their lives to save others, such as 26-year-old Christopher Lucas who was working as manager on duty at Pizza Hut. When the sirens went, Lucas ushered everybody into the company’s walk-in freezer.

“The only problem was, the freezer door wouldn’t stay closed from the inside. So as the tornado bore down on this small storefront on Range Line Road, Christopher left the freezer to find a rope or a cord or anything to hold the door shut,” Obama said. “He made it back just in time, tying a piece of bungee cord to the handle outside, wrapping the other end around his arm, holding the door closed with all his might. And Christopher held it as long as he could, until he was pulled away by the incredible force of the storm. He died saving more than a dozen people in that freezer.”

As of late Sunday, Missouri state officials said at least 139 people have been killed while nearly 1,000 others have been injured. A total of 39 people remain unaccounted for, but some are believed to be among the fatalities who have not yet been identified.

(Copyright 2011 by BNO News B.V. All rights reserved. Info: sales@bnonews.com.)

JOPLIN, MISSOURI (BNO NEWS) — U.S. President Barack Obama on Sunday traveled to the Missouri city of Joplin, where a violent tornado killed nearly 140 people and injured nearly 1,000 others earlier this month.

Recovery operations that began on May 22 when the EF-5 tornado ripped through the city are still continuing in an effort to find nearly 40 people who remain unaccounted for. It is the deadliest single tornado in the United States since modern record-keeping began in 1950.

Obama arrived at Joplin Regional Airport at around 12.22 p.m. local time after Air Force One flew over the city. “From the air, it looked as if a massive bulldozer drove straight through the center of town,” one reporter who was aboard Air Force One said.

After deplaning, the president was greeted by Missouri Governor Jay Nixon and his wife, as well as U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, Joplin Mayor Mike Woolston, and other state and federal officials.

Obama soon witnessed the disaster from the ground after a short motorcade ride. “Main Street’s signs were missing as we got closer,” one reporter traveling with the president said. “The damage is unreal. Fields of debris where there were houses. Tree trunks, missing their branches are white where the bark was stripped.”

After arriving in the hard hit area, Obama spoke with a woman in front of a house of which only the chimney, adorned with an American flag, and part of the foundation remained. “Obviously the scene speaks for itself,” Obama told reporters. “When we were in Tuscaloosa a few weeks ago, I talked about how I had not seen devastation like that in my lifetime. You come here to Joplin and it is just as heartbreaking and in some ways even more devastating.”

“The main thing I just want to communicate to the people of Joplin is this is just not your tragedy,” the president said. “This is a national tragedy and that means there will be a national response. [..] We’re going to do everything we can to continue whatever search and rescue remains. We are doing everything we can to make sure that folks get the shelter that they need, the support that they need.”

Obama has emphasized several times that the federal government will continue to help rebuild Joplin after the news media leaves. “We are not going to stop until Joplin is fully back on its feet,” he said as he toured the disaster area.

The president said it was ‘incredible’ how volunteers have come to help from as far away as Texas. “It’s an example of what the American spirit is all about. And that gives us a lot of encouragement at a time when obviously people are going through a lot of hardship,” he added.

Obama also urged all Americans to make a contribution to the American Red Cross or other charitable organizations which are active in Joplin. “That can make an enormous difference,” he said, recognizing that many victims have lost their entire homes and means of transportation. “Even if it’s just $5, $10, whatever you’ve got to spare — because one of the things that’s striking about this — and I felt the same way when I was down in Alabama — this can happen to anybody. The difference between you being in the path of this twister and a few blocks away, you being okay, is a very slim, slim margin.”

After touring the area, Obama spoke briefly at a memorial service which was held at the Missouri Southern University. “I was overseas in the aftermath of the storm, and had world leaders coming up to me saying, let the people of Joplin know we are with them; we’re thinking about them; we love them. Because the world saw how Joplin responded,” Obama told the audience.

The president focused his brief remarks on the people who gave their lives to save others, such as 26-year-old Christopher Lucas who was working as manager on duty at Pizza Hut. When the sirens went, Lucas ushered everybody into the company’s walk-in freezer.

“The only problem was, the freezer door wouldn’t stay closed from the inside. So as the tornado bore down on this small storefront on Range Line Road, Christopher left the freezer to find a rope or a cord or anything to hold the door shut,” Obama said. “He made it back just in time, tying a piece of bungee cord to the handle outside, wrapping the other end around his arm, holding the door closed with all his might. And Christopher held it as long as he could, until he was pulled away by the incredible force of the storm. He died saving more than a dozen people in that freezer.”

As of late Sunday, Missouri state officials said at least 139 people have been killed while nearly 1,000 others have been injured. A total of 39 people remain unaccounted for, but some are believed to be among the fatalities who have not yet been identified.

(Copyright 2011 by BNO News B.V. All rights reserved. Info: sales@bnonews.com.)

JOPLIN, MISSOURI (BNO NEWS) — Search and rescue teams in the Missouri city of Joplin have found two more survivors after Sunday’s devastating tornado which killed at least 123 people, officials said.

Search and rescue teams which include more than 400 firefighters, emergency medical service personnel, and 200 trained civilian volunteers, have been searching debris left by the tornado since Sunday.

Including the two people rescued on Tuesday, a total of nine survivors have now been located by those search and rescue teams. The teams are expected to search the entire area for a fourth time on Wednesday, and a fifth search following that is also planned.

But officials also announced that the death toll rose to 123 on Tuesday evening, making it the deadliest single tornado since modern record-keeping began in 1950. It is also ranked 8th among the deadliest tornadoes in U.S. history.

In addition to the fatalities, officials said a total of more than 850 people have been injured by the tornado. 750 people were treated at Joplin’s two hospitals, while more than 100 others were treated at other hospitals outside Joplin. Many remain seriously injured.

In other developments on Tuesday, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) determined that approximately 5,000 structures were damaged or destroyed in the impacted area. It was explained that in a multi-unit apartment complex, each individual apartment is considered a structure.

Joplin city employees also tested the seven tornado sirens which were still standing in the disaster area. It was determined all were working properly, and one of the two sirens which went missing has been replaced. The other one will be replaced on Wednesday.

The new tornado siren came immediately to use when, hours later, the National Weather Service (NWS) issued a tornado warning for Joplin. In the area which is missing its tornado siren, police vehicles used their public address system to notify residents. No tornado, however, impacted Joplin.

In addition to that, Joplin police also announced a 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew in the disaster zone to ensure safety. “Residents of the area are being instructed to remain inside their residences during the curfew period,” the governor’s office said.

Meanwhile, the NWS has upgraded Joplin’s tornado rating from an EF-4 to an EF-5, the highest rating on the Enhanced Fujita Scale. An EF-5 tornado means its winds were greater than 200 miles per hour, which compares to a category three hurricane.

(Copyright 2012 by BNO News B.V. All rights reserved. Info: sales@bnonews.com.)

JOPLIN, MISSOURI (BNO NEWS) — U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday said he is ‘heartbroken’ by the images of devastation from Missouri, where a violent tornado rampaged through the city of Joplin.

As of early Tuesday morning, officials in Missouri said the tornado in Joplin had killed at least 117 people, making it the deadliest single tornado since modern record-keeping began in 1950. More than 400 people were reported injured.

“Like all Americans, we have been monitoring what’s been taking place very closely and have been heartbroken by the images that we’ve seen in Joplin, Missouri, in particular,” Obama said from London. “The devastation is comparable and may end up exceeding some of the devastation that we saw in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, just a few weeks ago.”

Obama said his thoughts and prayers are with the families of those who are suffering. “All we can do is let them know that all of America cares deeply about them and that we are going to do absolutely everything we can to make sure that they recover,” he said.

Obama said it is important to continue rebuilding efforts after the news cameras leave. “We can make sure that the families and communities upended by these storms have everything they need to pull through,” the president added.

On Monday, both Obama and U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano spoke with Missouri Governor Jay Nixon to discuss the situation. “We’ve offered him not only our condolences, but we’ve told him that we will give him every ounce of resources the federal government may have that we can bring to bear on this situation,” Obama said.

Obama had previously also directed Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Craig Fugate to travel to Missouri to make sure the federal government works hand in hand with state and local officials. And on Sunday, Obama will personally go to Missouri.

“I myself will travel to Missouri to talk with folks who’ve been affected, to talk to local officials about our response effort and hopefully to pray with folks and give them whatever assurance and comfort I can that the entire country is going to be behind them,” Obama said.

This year has been unusually deadly from tornadoes in the United States. In late April, at least 329 people were killed and more than 2,000 others were injured when a violent tornado outbreak devastated Alabama and other Southern U.S. states.

“These storms that came this weekend obviously compounded what has already been an extraordinary storm season throughout the Midwest and in the South,” Obama noted. “We understand that there are more storms that are forecast today, so the thing I think I want to emphasize more than anything else, it is critical that Americans in affected areas heed storm warnings and take the lead of your local officials.”

Obama added: “I know that a lot of people are wondering how they’ll get through the coming days or months or even years, but I want everybody in Joplin, everybody in Missouri, everybody in Minnesota, everybody across the Midwest to know that we are here for you. The American people are by your side. We’re going to stay there until every home is repaired, until every neighborhood is rebuilt, until every business is back on its feet. That’s my commitment, and that’s the American people’s commitment.

On Monday, a National Weather Service (NWS) storm survey revealed the tornado was a violent EF-4 tornado, the second-highest rating on the Enhanced Fujita Scale. The storm survey estimated the tornado’s wind speeds at up to 198 miles (318 kilometers) per hour.

In response to the disaster, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon previously activated the Missouri National Guard and declared a state of emergency. He also opened the state’s Emergency Operations Center to coordinate the emergency response.

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