Missouri officials continue identifying tornado dead
JOPLIN, Missouri (Reuters) - Missouri officials continued on Monday the process of identifying the remains of bodies recovered from the devastating Joplin tornado and reduced the number of missing people to 29.
The Missouri Department of Public Safety said Monday that 113 victims had been positively identified and their relatives had been notified, up from 87 on Sunday.
Officials had reported 146 sets of human remains from the tornado, a number unchanged since Sunday. There is a chance that the remains of one person are in more than one set, they have said.
Officials on Monday said 29 people remain unaccounted for, down from 43 Sunday. The official death toll was last reported at 139 as of Saturday.
Of the 113 who have been identified, 13 were under the age of 18.
The tornado that hit May 22 was rated an EF-5, or the strongest possible, and was rated the deadliest single twister in the United States since 1947.
President Barack Obama visited Joplin on Sunday, vowing to cut through federal red tape to help with rebuild the city.
Some families have expressed frustration at the slow pace of identifying the victims and releasing the remains. Families have not been allowed to enter the morgue to view and identify the remains.
Authorities have defended that policy as necessary to be sure that no mistakes are made.
Up to 5,000 residents have registered with the Federal Emergency Management Agency for disaster aid, said Joplin City manager Mark Rohr.
Rohr said about 3,000 volunteers are helping with the disaster clean-up effort. Much of the work is centered on clearing debris, such as cutting up felled trees and piling up damaged items from people's homes.
(Reporting by Kevin Murphy. Writing by Mary Wisniewski. Editing by Peter Bohan)
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