Deadly twisters hit Midwest cities

At least 24 killed in Missouri, dozens of blocks of homes roofless in Minneapolis

MINNEAPOLIS (UPI) | May 22, 2011


A tornado slammed Joplin, Mo., killing 24 people Sunday and a twister hit Minneapolis, leaving one dead and 22 others injured, officials said.

Ryan Nicholls of the Springfield-Greene County Office of Emergency Management told St. Louis' KSDK-TV the death toll from the 6 p.m. tornado that smacked Joplin was at least two dozen.

National Weather Service Meteorologist Mike Griffin said the center of Joplin took a direct hit. Among the structures hit were St. John's Regional Medical Center, where multiple injuries were reported, and two city fire stations, KSDK-TV said.

KOAM-TV in Joplin reported a Burger King restaurant was decimated and King's Palace was on fire. Joplin High School, Commerce Bank and a Papa Johns pizza restaurant also were damaged," the TV station said.

Interstate 44 was closed in both directions due to overturned tractor-trailer rigs.

The damage in Minneapolis' north quadrant from the 3:30 p.m. twister was so widespread it prompted Mayor R.T. Rybak to warn people to stay away from the area, Minneapolis' KARE-TV reported.

"DO NOT come to NMpls to gawk at tornado damage," the mayor said in a message sent via Twitter. "1st responders can't keep people safe when others are in way. This is important; thank you."

KARE-TV described a devastating and chaotic scene with entire blocks of homes with their roofs missing, large trees uprooted, power lines on the ground and ambulances queuing up to take away the injured.

Tornadoes and hail blew across Minnesota's east-central counties during afternoon. Thousands were left without power, officials said.

The St. Paul Pioneer Press reported high winds trapped cars, ripped roofs off houses and broke windows across North Minneapolis. A shelter was set up at the Northeast Armory for those affected by the severe weather.

Trained spotters recorded funnel clouds and tornadoes in Brooklyn Park, Fridley, Forest Lake, Centerville, Hugo and Chisago City, the newspaper said.

WCCO-TV, Minneapolis, reported firefighters used axes and power saws to cut through fallen trees that trapped residents in their houses and apartment buildings. The station also reported damage at the Anoka County airport in Blaine, a northern suburb of Minneapolis.

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