KANSAS CITY (Reuters) - A powerful tornado plowed through the southwestern Missouri town of Joplin on Sunday, flattening numerous homes and badly damaging a hospital there, according to authorities and television footage of the storm's aftermath.
"It's done quite a bit of damage," one police dispatcher told Reuters by telephone before hanging up. "It hit quite a few parts of town."
Live overhead video of the area carried on the Weather Channel showed extensive areas where whole neighborhoods had been leveled. It was not immediately clear whether there were fatalities or serious injuries.
A local hospital, St. John's Regional Medical Center, appeared to have sustained heavy damage.
Steve Runnels, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Springfield, Missouri, near Joplin, said indications were that the tornado was very powerful.
"We have reports of significant structural damage to strong buildings," Runnels said. "Automobiles have been flipped, bark was stripped off trees."
A tornado warning continued for parts of southwest Missouri for twisters that may be part of the same storm system, he told Reuters.
(Reporting by Kevin Murphy and David Bailey; Writing by Steve Gorman; Editing by Jerry Norton)