* Death toll estimates may top 100, says Missouri coroner
* Missouri governor declares state of emergency
* Major damage to hospital, main street in Joplin
(Recasts with Missouri death toll, adds quotes, details)
By Kevin Murphy
KANSAS CITY, May 22 Tornadoes tore through
parts of the U.S. Midwest on Sunday, killing at least 30 people
in the Missouri town of Joplin and causing one death in
Minneapolis as well as causing extensive property damage.
The Joplin deaths came from a powerful tornado that plowed
through the southwestern Missouri town of some 50,000 people
late on Sunday afternoon.
"At this point we know we are up into the 30 range," Newton
County Coroner Mark Bridges told Reuters by telephone when
asked about the deaths.
"We have heard up into the over-100 (range), but ... I
don't think anyone has a good count right now," he said of the
casualties. He also said that 11 bodies had been recovered from
just one location.
The storms continued to build on the violent weather this
spring in the United States, which saw more than 330 deaths
last month as tornadoes swept seven states. That included 238
deaths in Alabama alone on April 27 as twisters battered
Tuscaloosa and other towns.
Missouri Governor Jay Nixon earlier on Sunday said on CNN
that an unknown number of people had perished, saying, "We
don't have any numbers, but we have had confirmation that there
have been deaths."
Nixon declared a state of emergency and announced he was
ordering Missouri National Guard troops be deployed to help
state troopers and other agencies respond to storms that he
said "have caused extensive damage across Missouri."
Whole neighborhoods as well as a hospital in Joplin were
badly damaged, according to authorities and local television
"It's done quite a bit of damage," a police officer in
Joplin told Reuters by telephone. "It hit quite a few parts of
Missouri State Highway Patrol dispatcher Charles Bradley
said the extent of the damage is still unknown as a variety of
state and local agencies send help to the area.
"There is a hospital that was majorly damaged," Bradley
said of Joplin's damage. "It's kind of like Tuscaloosa again."
Denise Bayless, 57, who lives north of the city, told
Reuters by telephone that many buildings on Main Street were
leveled and the town's only high school was burning.
She and her husband were at church when their adult son
called to say the tornado was hitting his house, and the couple
got in their car to drive to his aid.
"We just had to weave in and out of debris. Power lines
were down everywhere, and you could smell gas. It was scary,"
Carla Tabares and her husband Tony were in the Outback
Steakhouse in Joplin when the tornado hit. They had just run
through raindrops into the restaurant and sat down to order
when a waitress told them a tornado was headed their way.
"It was really awful, really scary," said Tabares.
She and her husband squeezed into the restaurant's cooler
with several families and children in the dark, hearing the
howling of the winds outside. When they emerged, their building
was largely unscathed but several other nearby restaurants and
businesses suffered severe damage.
"I'm just thankful we got out alive and I really feel sorry
for the people who didn't," said Tabares.
Another tornado ripped through the north end of Minneapolis
and some suburbs on Sunday, tearing roofs off dozens of homes
and garages, killing one person and injuring at least 30
others, authorities said.
The twister struck Sunday afternoon and plowed across a
three-to-five-mile (five-to-eight km) area in a northeasterly
direction, Assistant City Fire Chief Cherie Penn told Reuters
in a telephone interview.
Storms knocked out electricity to about 22,000 homes and
businesses in the area, but power was restored to several
thousand customers within hours, according to Xcel Energy Inc
spokeswoman Mary Sandok.
Tornadoes overnight on Saturday in northeast Kansas killed
one person and damaged some 200 structures. A state of
emergency was declared for 16 counties, state officials said.
(Reporting by Kevin Murphy, Carey Gillam, David Bailey and
Colleen Jenkins; Writing by Steve Gorman; Editing by Jerry
Norton, Peter Bohan and Eric Walsh)