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Joplin, Mo. —
A series of turbulent storms swept through the Midwest on Sunday as a powerful tornado slammed into Joplin, Mo., ripping the top off a hospital, shearing parts of the roof off a high school and turning major retail stores into heaps of rubble and twisted metal.
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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.
"We are responding aggressively, quickly. We want to make sure as the night goes on that we're saving lives between now and dawn," the governor told CNN. "There are a number of injuries. It's going to be a long night and a difficult recovery."
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.
1. Over 30 confirmed fatalities.
2. Over 30 confirmed fatalities.
3. Over 30 confirmed fatalities.