Fatalities as tornado hits southwest Missouri

By the Associated Press | May 22, 2011 | 9:13 PM EDT

JOPLIN, Mo. (AP) — Officials say the southwest Missouri city of Joplin has taken a direct hit from a tornado and there are reports of multiple fatalities.

Damage was widespread across the city's south side. John Campbell, operations director for the Missouri State Emergency Management Agency, confirmed fatalities have been reported, but he did not yet have an exact number or specifics.

Phone communications in and out of the city were largely cut off.