Tornado rips through Missouri killing 89

A powerful tornado has ripped through the Midwest American state of Missouri killing at least 89 people.

• Emergency personnel walk through a neighborhood severely damaged by a tornado near the Joplin Regional Medical Center in Joplin

The city of Joplin, which sits in the south west of the state, has born much of the impact with reports of a number of buildings being flattened.

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Emergency services say the death toll in the city is likely to rise.

Many streets on the city's south side were described as impassible, littered with downed trees and utility poles.

Phone communications in and out of the city of about 50,000 people about 160 miles south of Kansas City were largely cut off.

St John Regional Medical Centre was evacuating nearly 100 patients after the hospital took a direct hit from the tornado, said Cora Scott, a spokeswoman at the hospital's sister facility.

Jeff Lehr, a reporter for the Joplin Globe, said he was upstairs in his home when the storm hit but was able to make his way to a basement closet.

"There was a loud huffing noise, my windows started popping. I had to get downstairs, glass was flying. I opened a closet and pulled myself into it," he said.

"Then you could hear everything go. It tore the roof off my house, everybody's house. I came outside and there was nothing left."

Mr Lehr said people were walking around the streets outside trying to check on neighbours, but in many cases there were no homes to check.

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"There were people wandering the streets, all mud covered," he said. "I'm talking to them, asking if they knew where their family is. Some of them didn't know, and weren't sure where they were. All the street markers were gone."

In Minneapolis, Minnesota, at least one person was killed and 30 others hurt by a separate tornado.