At least 90 dead in US tornadoes
As President Obama touched down in Dublin this morning, the death toll from tornado’s in the US Midwest rose to 90, with one city in Missouri hit with such force that dozens of cars were overturned and entire neighbourhoods blitzed.
An unknown number were killed in Joplin, in south-west Missouri.
The Joplin deaths came from a powerful tornado that struck the south western Missouri town of some 50,000 people yesterday afternoon, wrecking a hospital and leaving some neighbourhoods in ruins.
Local officials told a press conference that the toll from the tornado had risen from an earlier estimate of 30 to 89.
Emergency crews worked through the night combing through mounds of rubble and debris searching for survivors and bodies under bright floodlights.
The tornadoes are the latest in a series of storms in the US that claimed more than 330 lives last month as tornadoes swept seven states.
That total included 238 deaths in Alabama alone on 27 April, when tornadoes battered the university town of Tuscaloosa and other cities.
Missouri Governor Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency and announced he was ordering National Guard troops be deployed to help state troopers and other agencies respond to storms that he said 'have caused extensive damage across Missouri'.
Ireland-bound President Barack Obama had issued a statement expressing his 'deepest condolences' to families of the victims.
He said he had directed the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to support response and recovery efforts.
The President is being kept up to date on developments during his 24 hour visit to Dublin and Offaly.