Woman dies after being told of her father's Joplin death

/ Source: msnbc.com news services

A 54-year-old Missouri woman has died after suffering a heart attack when told of her father's death in the Joplin tornado.

Newton County Coroner Mark Bridges said the woman who died Tuesday didn't immediately learn of her father's death Sunday in the historic storm that has killed more than 120 people. He did not know her father's age or the circumstances of the man's death.

Bridges identified the woman as a schoolteacher and resident of nearby Webb City who attended church in Joplin.

The coroner said the death is considered a storm-related casualty even though the woman was not directly killed by the tornado.

Still in 'search-and-rescue mode'
In Joplin on Wednesday, the search for missing victims of the lethal storms inched forward methodically, with city leaders refusing to abandon hope that they would find more survivors even as rescuers prepared to go over ground searched as many as three times already.

"We are still in a search-and-rescue mode," said Mark Rohr, Joplin's city manager. "I want to emphasize that."

A survivor told NBC's Kevin Tibbles that the tornado was "the most evil-looking thing you've ever seen in your life."

Shadowing the rescue work in the southwest Missouri city of 50,000 people was uncertainty over just how many survivors remained to be found. Nine people have been rescued since Sunday's disaster, including two on Tuesday, but authorities have hesitated to say how many people are unaccounted for. They also said many were believed to have simply left the area safely.

The Joplin tornado was the deadliest single twister since the weather service began keeping official records in 1950 and the eighth-deadliest in U.S. history. Scientists said it appeared to be a rare "multivortex" tornado, with two or more small and intense centers of rotation orbiting the larger funnel.

Bill Davis, the lead forecaster on a National Weather Service survey team, said he would need to look at video to try to confirm that, b ut he said the strength of the tornado was evident from the many stout buildings that were damaged: St. John's Regional Medical Center, Franklin Technology Center, a bank gone except for its vault, a Pepsi bottling plant and "numerous, and I underscore numerous, well-built residential homes that were basically leveled."

Davis' first thought on arriving in town to do the survey, he said, was: "Where do you start?"