Joplin says death toll from tornado now at 139

JOPLIN, Mo. (AP) -- The death toll from the monster tornado last week in Missouri has risen by seven to at least 139, city spokeswoman Lynn Onstot said Saturday.

The state has been working to pare down the list of people missing and unaccounted for in the wake of the deadliest single U.S. twister in more than six decades. It said Friday that the original list of 232 missing or unaccounted for residents had dropped to 156 by Friday. The number is now at 100 still missing.

Missouri Department of Public Safety deputy director Andrea Spillars said Friday that at least 90 people on the initial list had been located alive. But at least six others were identified as among the dead, and some new names had been added to the scroll of the missing.

Authorities had cautioned for days that while they believed many on the list were alive and safe, others likely had been killed.

City manager Mark Rohr acknowledged Friday afternoon that there may be "significant overlap" between the confirmed dead and the remainder of the missing list. Still, search and rescue crews were undeterred, with 600 volunteers and 50 dog teams out again across the city.

"We're going to be in a search and rescue mode until we remove the last piece of debris," Rohr said.

The tornado -- an EF5 packing 200 mph winds -- was the deadliest since 1950 and more than 900 people were injured. Tallying and identifying the dead and the missing has proven a complex, delicate and sometimes confusing exercise for both authorities and loved ones.

Earlier Saturday, a family member said that a teenager believed to be ejected or sucked from his father's car on the way home from graduation in the massive tornado has been confirmed dead. Will Norton's aunt, Tracey Presslor, said Saturday that the family received confirmation of his death late Friday night.

Family members had previously told The Associated Press that Norton and his father were still on the road when the storm hit.

Mark Norton urged his son to pull over, but the teen's Hummer H3 flipped several times, throwing the young man from the vehicle, likely through the sunroof.

Several social-networking efforts specifically focused on finding information about Norton.

Search and rescue efforts continued Saturday with more than 400 volunteers and more than 50 dog teams working.

Onstot reports that the Animal Adoption and Resource Center along with the Humane Society of Missouri reunited 121 animals with their owners and retrieved 464 animals to date.

Numbers describing last Sunday's storm are nothing short of numbing. The tornado -- an EF5 monster packing 200 mph winds -- was the deadliest since 1950 and more than 900 people were injured.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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