JOPLIN, MO (KTVI) - It was the nation's deadliest tornado in nearly 60 years. And now the death toll stands at 122, but is expected to rise. The Missouri National Guard, police and other emergency workers will continue to dig through debris Tuesday, searching for any survivors of Sunday's devastating tornado in Joplin, MO. About 1500 people remain listed as "unaccounted for."
The signature of the storm continues to be piles of debris wrapped around trees and homes and businesses completely blown off their foundation. About 750 people were injured.
There were several rescues Monday bringing hope to many in the southwest Missouri town. Seventeen people were pulled from the rubble, but officials say they still aren't sure just how many people are missing. Many family members are setting up Facebook pages and using local media to try and find family members. The American Red Cross has set up a Safe & Well site where people can list themselves as safe. Families can also check the site.
The tornado killed at least 118 people. U.S. weather officials say the twister was six miles long and a half-mile wide and left nothing but destruction in its path.
Those who survived the storm say rode out the storm in basements, bathtubs and even convenience store storage rooms. "We ran to the bathroom, I got the kids in, and I swept everything off the bed and put a mattress over us, and held it down really tight," said one resident. "It was bringing the debris with it, we just got all in the house, got in the shower, stayed there, rode it out."
Two police officers were injured Monday when they were struck by lightning while the looked for survivors. One of those officers returned to work Tuesday, but the other officer's injuries were more severe.
Rescuers are also back on the scene of St. John's Regional Medical Center, the hospital that took a direct hit by the tornado.
Governor Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency Monday. President Barack Obama also called the governor from Ireland to extend his condolences for the families of Joplin.
The Joplin, Mo. tornado is the deadliest single U.S. tornado in 64 years, since 181 were killed in Woodward, Okla. on Apr. 9, 1947.
Top 10 deadliest tornadoes
* Mar. 18, 1925 (Tri-State Tornado): 695
* May 6, 1840 (Natchez, Miss.): 317
* May 27, 1896 (St. Louis, Mo.): 255
* Apr. 5, 1936 (Tupelo, Miss.): 216
* Apr. 6, 1936 (Gainesville, Ga.): 203
* Apr. 9, 1947 (Woodward, Okla.): 181
* Apr. 24, 1908 (Amite, La., Purvis, Miss.): 143
* May 22, 2011 (Joplin, Mo.): 122
* Jun. 12, 1899 (New Richmond, Wisc.): 117
* Jun. 8, 1953 (Flint, Mich.): 115
According to preliminary stats from NOAA's Storm Prediction Center, the country is close to 500 U.S. tornado deaths in 2011. The last time there was more than 400 tornado fatalities was 1953 when there was 519.