Missouri Death Toll at 132; Funerals Begin

By: AP Email
By: AP Email

JOPLIN, Mo. (AP) - Friends and family paid tribute to victims of
the Joplin tornado on Friday, beginning the grim task of burying
the dead as officials said the savage storm's death toll had risen
to 132 people.

As the first funeral began just over the Kansas border, city
officials said the body count had gone up by six from the previous
day. The state meanwhile worked to pare down the list of people
missing and unaccounted for in the wake of the deadliest single
U.S. twister in more than six decades.

The original list of 232 missing or unaccounted for residents
had dropped to 156 by Friday, Missouri Department of Public Safety
deputy director Andrea Spillars said, adding that at least 90
people on the initial list had been located alive.

But at least six others were identified as among the dead, and
some new names had been added to the scroll of the missing.
Authorities had cautioned for days that while they believed many on
the list were alive and safe, others likely had been killed.

City manager Mark Rohr acknowledged during an afternoon news
conference that there may be "significant overlap" between the
confirmed dead and the remainder of the missing list. Still, search
and rescue crews were undeterred, with 600 volunteers and 50 dog
teams out again across the city.

"We're going to be in a search and rescue mode until we remove
the last piece of debris," Rohr said.

On Friday night, the Department of Public Safety made public a
list of 31 people who had been confirmed dead and whose next of kin
had been notified. State troopers were helping to notify the kin of
others killed in the storm, and the department planned daily
updates.

Earlier Friday, hundreds of mourners packed Tennessee Friends
Prairie Church in Galena, Kan., for the first funeral of the
tornado's confirmed victims.

Few mentioned the deadly twister, or even the circumstances
under which Adam Dewayne Darnaby died four days short of his 28th
birthday. Instead, they celebrated the life of a devout Christian
who loved his wife of less than three years and was a favorite
uncle to nine nieces and nephews.

Darnaby was described as a hunter, former high school football
player and avid catfish fisherman who made fast friends. He watched
little television because, in the words of a close friend, "he was
too busy living."

The funeral service concluded with a recording of "A Country
Boy Can Survive," a paean to rural life by Hank Williams Jr.

"That tornado was tiny," said Wes Davis, pastor of Riverton
Friends Church in southeast Kansas, which Darnaby attended. "It
was no match for Adam Darnaby."

Numbers describing Sunday's storm are nothing short of numbing.
The tornado - an EF5 monster packing 200 mph winds - was the
deadliest since 1950 and more than 900 people were injured.

Tallying and identifying the dead and the missing has proven a
complex, delicate and sometimes confusing exercise for both
authorities and loved ones.

At least 19 bodies have been released to relatives, Spillars
said, a small fraction of the overall count. Identification has
been slow because officials have taken extra precautions since a
woman misidentified one victim as her son in the chaotic hours
after the tornado hit.

Authorities say their deliberate identification efforts are
necessary to avoid more mishaps.

"It is important that we be absolutely accurate in this
process," Spillars said.

A federal forensics team of 50 to 75 disaster mortuary
specialists has been at work in six refrigerated trucks, collecting
DNA samples for testing, taking fingerprints and looking for
tattoos, body piercings, moles and other distinctive marks.

Allowing relatives into the morgue to identify loved ones may
not be necessary in many cases if those bodies "can be identified
using other methods," Spillars said.

Business leaders, meanwhile, have been tallying the storm's
bleak economic toll. The Joplin Chamber of Commerce announced
Thursday that at least 300 businesses and 4,000 jobs were affected
by the tornado.

One of the city's largest employers, St. John's Hospital, was
destroyed. But hospital officials have vowed to rebuild and said
they are committed to retaining the hospital's 2,000 employees.

Home Depot and Wal-Mart, also large employers, say they will
rebuild. Dillon's, a grocery store also destroyed, has not made a
commitment.


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