JOPLIN, Missouri (AFP) – The number of people still missing from a killer tornado has dropped to 29, but officials said finding any of them alive eight days after the twister struck would require “a miracle.”
The massive May 22 tornado killed 142 people in Joplin, Missouri, in what was one of the deadliest twisters ever in the United States.
“Realistically, the chance of finding someone is diminishing with each passing day, but we will proceed with the hope of a miracle occurring,” Joplin city manager Mark Rohr said in a statement Monday.
Search and rescue efforts continued on Memorial Day, a national holiday in the United States.
“We are heartened by the prospect of a late rescue such that has occurred in other disasters,” Rohr said.
President Barack Obama toured the damaged city Sunday and promised residents that the country will stand by them “every step of the way” as rebuilding efforts begin.
On May 26, officials released a list of 232 missing persons and it has gradually reduced. It stood at 43 on Sunday.
State officials are cross-checking names of the missing with hospitals, and are working with cell phone service providers to determine if anyone has used their phone since being added to the list.
The current list of 29 unaccounted for “includes three persons who have been reported deceased by family, but for whom official confirmation is still underway,” the Missouri Department of Public Safety said in a statement.
“Our work will not cease until the number of unaccounted-for individuals is zero,” state deputy public safety director Andrea Spillars said in a statement.