A tornado steamrolled over Joplin, Mo., on Sunday night, knocking out a hospital and killing dozens of people across the city, according to various reports.
Joplin, which was in the direct path of the tornado, was left isolated and in the dark after the destruction, with telephone connections largely cut off and many homes without electricity after the twister touched down around 6 p.m., according to
A coroner's official reported at least 30 people dead in Joplin, according to Reuters news agency, but the tornado's rampage through the middle of the southwestern Missouri town of 50,000 left officials concerned that the number could be much higher.
"It's total devastation," Gov. Jay Nixon said as he dispatched the National Guard and emergency rescue teams in a race to find survivors. Search-and-rescue efforts were expected to continue throughout the uneasy night.
President Obama said the Federal Emergency Management Agency was responding. "We commend the heroic efforts by those who have responded and who are working to help their friends and neighbors at this very difficult time," he said,