• Emergency personnel walk through a neighborhood severely damaged by a tornado near the Joplin Regional Medical Center in Joplin, Mo., Sunday, May 22, 2011. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein) AP, JOPLIN, Mo.—A massive tornado blasted its way across southwestern Missouri on Sunday, flattening several blocks of homes and businesses in Joplin and leaving residents frantically scrambling through the wreckage. At least 115 have died in the massive tornado, authorities say. City manager Mark Rohr announced the number at a pre-dawn news conference Monday outside the wreckage of a hospital that took a direct hit from Sunday’s storm. Rohr said the twister cut a path nearly six miles long and more than a half-mile wide through the center of town. Much of the city’s south side was leveled, with businesses, homes and restaurants reduced to ruins.

  • A destroyed helicopter lies on its side in the parking lot of the Joplin Regional Medical Center in Joplin, Mo., Sunday, May 22, 2011. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein) Search and rescue efforts are the current priority, including bringing food and water to those who are trapped. Plans to clear debris and clean up the city are also pending, but a couple of days away. Officials expect that people are still trapped in buildings. Two fire stations in Joplin have been destroyed, and rescuers are trying to work through their own damage while helping others.

  • An emergency worker carries a girl to safety from the remains of Academy Sports in Joplin. (AP Photo/The Joplin Globe, Roger Nomer) The same storm system spawned twisters along a broad swath from Oklahoma to Wisconsin. At least one person was killed in Minneapolis. In Joplin, hundreds of windows were blown out St. John’s Regional Medical Center, where a few moments’ notice gave staff time to hustle patients into hallways before the tornado struck. All were quickly evacuated into the parking lot to be moved to other hospitals in the region.

  • Residents begin digging through the rubble of their home after it was destroyed by a tornado that hit Joplin, Mo. on Sunday evening, May 22, 2011. (AP Photo/Mike Gullett) The storm spread debris about 60 miles away, with medical records, X-rays, insulation and other items falling to the ground in Greene County, said Larry Woods, assistant director of the Springfield- Greene County Office of Emergency Management. Emergency management officials rushed heavy equipment to Joplin to help lift debris and clear the way for search and recovery operations. Gov. Jay Nixon activated the National Guard and declared a state of emergency. Schools in the disaster zoned were flattened or severely damaged.

  • Two rescuers try to pull free a woman from a destroyed building in Joplin. (AP Photo/The Joplin Globe, Roger Nomer)

  • Damaged vehicles litter the parking lot of St. John’s Hospital in Joplin. (AP Photo/Mike Gullett)

  • A man carries a young boy who was rescued after being trapped in his home after a tornado hit Joplin. (AP Photo/Mike Gullett)

  • Emergency personnel assess the damage of the remains of the Academy Sports building at 17th St. and Range Line Road in Joplin. (AP Photo/Roger Nomer/The Joplin Globe)

  • A man carries a young girl who was rescued after being trapped with her mother in their home after a tornado hit Joplin. (AP Photo/Mike Gullett)

  • Residents of Joplin. (AP Photo/Mike Gullett)

  • An emergency worker searches through damaged cars along Range Line Road in Joplin. (AP Photo/The Joplin Globe, Roger Nomer)

  • People walk down a street lined with destroyed homes in Joplin. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

  • Emergency vehicles line up along northbound Rangeline Road in Joplin. (AP Photo/The Joplin Globe, Roger Nomer)

  • Residents of Joplin, Mo, walk west on 26th Street near Maiden Lane. (AP Photo/Mike Gullett)

  • Damage is seen in Joplin, Mo. after a tornado struck the city on Sunday evening, May 22, 2011. (AP Photo/The Joplin Globe, Roger Nomer)

  • Rescuers and neighbors look through the the wreckage of destroyed homes on a hillside in Joplin. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

  • Two rescuers try to pull free a woman from a destroyed building in Joplin. (AP Photo/The Joplin Globe, Roger Nomer)