Officials: 232 still missing in wake of MO tornadoPosted: Updated:
(AP) - Mike Hare has scoured the ravagedneighborhood where his 16-year-old son Lantz was seen last. He'scalled hospitals from Dallas to Kansas City and taken dozens ofcalls offering advice, prayers and hopeful tips.
None of the calls came from Lantz. None offered any hope hemight still be alive.
Hare has been looking for his son since Sunday, when much of thesouthwest Missouri city of Joplin was leveled by the deadliestsingle tornado since the National Weather Service started keepingrecords.
"We know he's hurt somewhere," Hare said Wednesday, his voicebreaking. "We just can't sit and keep calling. You've got to bemoving."
Hare is among an increasingly desperate group of people inJoplin pleading for help in tracking down one of the dwindlingnumber of people still missing in the wake of Sunday's storm.They're scrawling signs in wreckage, calling in by the hundreds tolocal radio stations and posting on the Internet. They areinspiring city officials to continue search and rescue efforts:there is no talk yet of recovery.
On Thursday, the state said 232 people are still considered"unaccounted for" in Joplin, and that some of those are among the126 people killed by the storm. Others are believed to be alive,but have left the area or have been unable to reunite with familyand friends since the storm.
"Our goal is to get that number to zero," said AndreaSpillars, deputy director of the Missouri Department of PublicSafety. "We will dedicate as much state resources as needed aroundthe clock to ensure those family who have loved ones that theycannot find are connected."
The state released a list of names, and urged those who arestill alive to check in with authorities.
"I am hopeful," Joplin Fire Chief Mitch Randles saidWednesday. "We've had stories from earthquakes and tsunamis andother disasters of people being found two or three weeks later, andwe are hopeful we'll have a story like that to tell."
Randles and others leading the search effort say it's impossibleto know exactly how many people are truly missing, since many mayhave simply left the area without getting in touch with theirfamilies. They believe most will be OK.
Amid that confusion, away from formal grid searches in thedebris fields, children are looking for their parents and friendsare searching for neighbors in any way they can.
Tornado death toll rises to at least 122 in Joplin, Mo.