The deadliest tornado to hit the United States in almost 60 years cut through the Midwestern city of Joplin, Missouri, on May 22, killing at least 116 people. Amateur photos and videos bear witness to the storm’s trail of devastation.
Stunned survivors emerged to "apocalyptic" scenes of black smoke billowing over ruined buildings and water gushing out of broken sewage pipes. US President Barack Obama, who is currently on a week-long tour of Europe, sent his "deepest condolences" to victims and said the federal government stood ready to help Americans where needed.
Joplin, population 50,000, is a small working-class city situated in the middle of a triangle formed by Kansas City, Memphis and Oklahoma City. A new tornado watch was issued Monday and extended beyond Joplin to Oklahoma and parts of southern Kansas.
According to the National Weather Service, the United States is on track for a record year of tornados. There have already been more than 1,000 since January. The previous yearly record was of 1,817 for the entire year of 2004.
Video taken as the tornado ripped through the city. The authors of the video stop to try to help people trapped in their car. Video published by seanwilson7 on May 23, 2011.
Zoom in on this picture and scroll either side for a 360-degree panorama of the destruction in Joplin. On the right of the photo, the only building left standing is Saint John’s hospital. Everything east of that point was wiped away by the tornado. Original photo posted on Twitpic by @borntorunnergrl, uploaded with zoom.it.
A flag hung on a bent-over tree. Although the worst of the storm is over, the winds remain strong. Photo posted on Twitpic by @carterhulsey.
Debris strewn along the streets of Joplin after the tornado. Photo posted on Flickr by lisaschaos on May 22.
Damaged buildings in Joplin. Photo posted on Yfrog by jessicawaldo on May 22.
Shocked Joplin residents survey the damage and look for survivors trapped in the debris. Video posted on YouTube by aarondurall85 on May 22.
A church devastated by the tornado. Video published on YouTube by ericmalone on May 22.
Helicopter footage of the damage in Joplin. Video posted on YouTube on May 22 by benpostoak.