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Joplin Death Toll Climbs to 116

And more fatalities expected as gas leaks cause fires, more weather looms
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 23, 2011 5:15 PM CDT

(Newser) – Rescue crews dug through piles of splintered houses and crushed cars today in a search for victims of a half-mile-wide tornado that blasted much of this Missouri town off the map and slammed straight into its hospital. At least 116 people died, making it the nation's deadliest single tornado in nearly 60 years and the second major tornado disaster in a month. An unknown number of people were hurt.

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Authorities feared the toll could rise as the full scope of the destruction comes into view: House after house reduced to slabs, cars crushed like soda cans, shaken residents roaming streets in search of missing family members. And the danger was by no means over. Fires from gas leaks burned across town, and more violent weather loomed, including the threat of hail, high winds, and even more tornadoes. (Read more Joplin tornado stories.)

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