- (Photo: Reuters / Eric Thayer)
A Joplin, Mo., official said the number of people missing since last week's powerful tornado is down to 40.
Just the evening before, the number of people still unaccounted for was 100. But Mike O'Connell, spokesman for the Missouri Department of Public Safety, said the figure had dropped to less than half as of today, according to The Associated Press.
Sadly, however, the drop is due to relatives being notified that their love ones had died, rather than because of rescue efforts.
An EF-5 tornado, the strongest tornado category, struck the southwestern Missouri town of Joplin on May 22. An estimated 25 to 30 percent of the city is damaged, according to officials. As of Saturday evening, the death toll was 142, but that figure will likely rise given the shift of missing persons to the deceased list.
The Joplin tornado is the deadliest single twister since the U.S. began keeping comprehensive records of tornadoes over 60 years ago. Some have described the landscape of Joplin as looking like a bomb was dropped on the town. Barely any structures have been able to withstand the 200-mph tornado that ripped through the populated town of 50,000 people.
"As we drove into Joplin, the scenes of destruction were unimaginable," said Jody Herrington-Gettys, director of U.S. Disaster Relief for Operation Blessing.
A community memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. local time on Sunday. Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon and President Barack Obama are scheduled to participate.