The latest death toll from the half-mile to three-quarter mile wide twister that wreaked havoc in Joplin, Missouri is up to 117 people, with at least 500 injured. Discouragingly, Capt. Robert Daus, one of the firefighters in charge of search and rescue operations has told The New York Times that 1,500 of the estimated 49,000 people in the city are still unaccounted for.
The reason for the large number of missing persons, as the Times notes, is the sheer amount of rubble that rescue workers need to sift through. It could also be attributed to a communications "breakdown" that occurred in the aftermath of the storm. Yesterday, there were estimates that 2,000 structures had been damaged after the tornado tore through the town--including one of the area's hospitals. The Associated Press reported earlier today that Joplin residents have created multiple social-network pages to find people "who haven't been heard from since Sunday."
The tornado outbreak has been classified as the deadliest since 1953, or as far back as modern record keeping goes. And more twisters are reportedly on the way this week as a storm system heads toward southeast Missouri.