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Last Updated: Tuesday, 8 May 2007, 11:49 GMT 12:49 UK
Kansas counts dead from tornado
Most of Greensburg now lies in ruins

Emergency workers are continuing efforts to clear up a small town in the US state of Kansas that was flattened by a tornado over the weekend.

Nine people are now known to have died when the tornado hit Greensburg.

Officials revised an earlier death toll of 10, saying a wig found in the rubble was mistaken for a body part. But there are fears people may still be missing.

Residents were allowed back for the first time on Monday to assess the damage and retrieve possessions.

An estimated 95% of homes and businesses in Greensburg, a town of about 1,500 people, have been damaged or destroyed.

Another two people died in violent storms elsewhere in Kansas state over the weekend.

Efforts 'handicapped'

Search efforts were delayed on Monday by a leak of anhydrous ammonia, used as fertiliser by farmers, which meant rescue workers had to evacuate part of the town.

Map

Speaking on Sunday, US President George W Bush declared parts of Kansas a major disaster area and pledged federal aid for reconstruction.

He is due to visit the area on Wednesday.

Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius also visited the town, which lies about 120 miles (200km) west of Wichita in southern Kansas.

The Democrat said the state's response would inevitably be affected because emergency equipment such as trucks, tents and trailers had been sent to Iraq.

"Not having the National Guard equipment, which used to be positioned in various parts of the state, to bring in immediately is really going to handicap this effort to rebuild," she said, the Associated Press news agency reports.

Heavy equipment will be needed to move the large amounts of debris left by the tornado, which was classified by the National Weather Service as an EF-5, the most powerful category.

The tornado was described as a "wedge", a particularly wide formation said to be - in this instance - more than one mile in diameter.

Flood risk

Several other tornadoes hit the state over the weekend.

A man died in Ottawa County, northeast of Greensburg, state officials said, and another person was killed in Pratt County.

Eleven people were injured in the town of Osborne when a tornado hit two restaurants.

Several homes were damaged and one person was injured by a tornado in western Oklahoma.

Heavy rain continued to sweep across the middle of the country on Monday, leading to flooding in areas including Topeka, capital of Kansas, and south-west Iowa.

National Guard soldiers have been sent to the area to provide security and to start clearing the debris left by the storm.




VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Homeowners return to see the destruction



SEE ALSO
Fresh tornadoes pound central US
06 May 07 |  Americas
In pictures: Huge tornado hits US
06 May 07 |  In Pictures
Tornado flattens town in Kansas
06 May 07 |  Americas
Bush tours tornado disaster site
03 Mar 07 |  Americas
Florida struck by deadly tornado
02 Feb 07 |  Americas
How a tornado is formed
08 Sep 06 |  Science/Nature

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