May 25, 2011 / 2:21 AM / 8 years ago

Joplin deaths rise, more twisters in US Midwest

JOPLIN, Mo, May 25 (Reuters) - The death toll from a monster tornado that savaged Joplin, Missouri, rose to 125 on Wednesday after an overnight search turned up more bodies but no new survivors, authorities said.

The tornado that wrecked up to a third of the city of 50,000 on Sunday was upgraded to an EF-5, or the highest rating possible on the Enhanced Fujita scale of tornado power and intensity. It had been rated an EF-4.

Search teams using dogs and heavy equipment pressed on through a harsh night of more stormy weather amid the wreckage of homes, business, schools and churches.

About 1,500 people have been reported missing and some 750 people were injured, according to authorities.

EF-5 tornadoes, with winds at or above 200 miles per hour (328 km/ph), are rare in the United States but already this year there have been at least four — two in Mississippi, one in Alabama, and in Joplin. They are so destructive that experts said they can turn a house into a missile.

A fresh line of tornadoes and thunderstorms rumbled through the Midwest again on Tuesday night, bringing more death and destruction to the region, though sparing Joplin.

The storms killed at least seven people and injured many more as tornadoes ripped through Oklahoma, Kansas and into Arkansas.

President Barack Obama plans to visit Joplin on Sunday, after he returns from a weeklong, four-nation tour in Europe. [ID:nLDE74N10R] (Reporting by Carey Gillam; Editing by Jerry Norton and Vicki Allen)

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