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Deadly twister cripples Joplin, Mo.

by Brad A. Greenberg

May 23, 2011 | 1:07 pm

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Two thousand eleven is starting to look a lot like 2005 on the natural-disaster front. First the Japanese earthquake and tsunami; then tornadoes in the South that killed nearly 300; and last night, Missouri was rocked by a tornado that killed at least 90—and climbing.

Here is the story of that disaster from The New York Times:

“There was panic—firefighters were pulling themselves out of the debris and then helping others,” said Mike Bettes, a meteorologist for the Weather Channel who arrived in Joplin 10 minutes after the tornado touched down, as part of the show “The Great Tornado Hunt.”

Hours later, he said, the scene was “very serene—dark, relatively quiet.” He and his Weather Channel crew had set up to report from the hospital grounds, he said in a telephone interview, and “we are on a hill and the only lights we see are on the fire trucks or ambulances.”

Joplin’s was by far the worst damage on a day of brutal storms in the Midwest, including a tornado in Minneapolis that city officials said left one person dead and dozens injured in an area that covered several blocks. By Sunday night, Missouri’s governor, Jay Nixon, had already activated the National Guard and declared a state of emergency.

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