Why Are So Many People Missing After Joplin Tornado?
Terrifying Joplin Supercell Tornado Seen from Space
It's most likely that only a small fraction of the 1,500 people listed as "unaccounted for" in Joplin, Mo., since a devastating F4 tornado hit the town on Sunday, will end up as fatalities. In fact, many of those 1,500 are probably already accounted for by the people whose houses they've relocated to.
According to Harold Brooks, a research meteorologist at the National Severe Storms Laboratory, the high number is probably a result of the new way the Red Cross counts missing persons.
On the Red Cross' "Safe and Well" website, Joplin residents can enter a name of someone they are looking for. If no one responds on the website with updated information that that person has been found, however, he or she is listed as missing. That is probably the case in this situation, Brooks said.
Usually missing people end up being at relatives' houses, or just out of town at the time of the storm, Brooks explained. "I'm not nervous about the high number," he said. "After the tornado in Tuscaloosa, Ala., [on Apr. 27], there were 400 people listed as unaccounted for and only three ended up being fatalities."
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