May 24, 2011 / 1:18 AM / in 7 years

Joplin tornado deaths up to 122, eighth deadliest on record

JOPLIN, Mo (Reuters) - A monster tornado that ripped through the small southwest Missouri city of Joplin on Sunday killed at least 122 people and injured around 750. authorities said on Tuesday

The revised death toll was up from 118 fatalities given earlier on Tuesday, and makes the giant twister the eighth deadliest in U.S. history, according to officials speaking at a news conference.

Authorities also said the Joplin tornado was upgraded to an EF-5, or the highest rating possible on the Enhanced Fujita scale of tornado power and intensity. The Joplin tornado had previously been rated as an EF-4.

EF-5 tornadoes are rare in the United States but already this year there have been at least four -- two in Mississippi, one in Alabama last month, and Joplin. They are so destructive that experts said they can turn a house into an aerial missile. Winds during the Joplin tornado were estimated at up to 200 miles per hour.

The Joplin tornado damaged an estimated 8,000 structures in the city of about 50,000, authorities said.

Reporting by Megan Gates; Writing by Greg McCune; Editing by Jerry Norton

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