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Obama pledges a 'national' response to tornado tragedy

US President Barack Obama yesterday toured the apocalyptic landscape left by Missouri's killer tornado.

Just back from his week-long trip to Europe, Mr Obama travelled to Joplin, Missouri, to console the bereaved and homeless, and committed the government to helping rebuild their lives.

The worst tornado in decades tore through Joplin a week ago leaving more than 120 dead and hundreds more injured. At least 40 remain unaccounted for, and the damage is massive.

"This is not just your tragedy. This is a national tragedy, and that means there will be a national response," Mr Obama said.

Air Force One flew over a massive swath of brown as far as the eye could see -- a landscape of flattened houses and stripped trees -- on its approach to Joplin.

Mr Obama's motorcade pulled into a neighbourhood where downed trees cleaved open houses, roofs were stripped or blown off, cars were cratered and splintered wood was everywhere.

"Sorry for your loss," he told an anguished woman, hugging her twice as they talked.

To those working at the scene, the president said: "We appreciate everything you guys are doing. God bless you."

One volunteer told him that people were streaming in from other states to help any way they could.

Mr Obama vowed: "We are going to be here long after the cameras leave. We're not going to stop 'til Joplin's back on its feet."

Irish Independent