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Amid Joplin's ruins, some missing found

JOPLIN, Mo. -- As emergency workers in Joplin searched yesterday for more than 230 people listed as missing after a tornado tore through the city, one was sitting in a wooden chair outside the wreckage of her home, cuddling her cat.

Sally Adams, 75, said neighbors rescued her Sunday after the storm destroyed her house. They took her to a friend's home. When The Associated Press told Adams she was on the missing list, she laughed and said, "Get me off of there!"

Missouri officials had said they believed many of the missing were safe and alive but simply hadn't been in touch with friends and family. When they released the list of 232 names yesterday morning, they urged survivors to check in. Cellphone service in the city remains spotty.

Adams said she lost her phone in the storm and had no way of contacting her family to let them know she was OK. She was placed on the missing list after relatives called a hotline and posted Facebook messages saying she was missing.

Adams' son, Bill Adams, said he told authorities his mother was alive after he learned she was safe, yet she remained on their unaccounted-for list yesterday afternoon.

Mike O'Connell, spokesman for the Missouri Department of Public Safety, said he wouldn't call Adams' listing a mistake and he said finding her is "a good thing." He urged other survivors to check the list and call if they see their names.

Joplin's half-mile-wide twister took out the city's main hospital, the high school and possibly thousands of homes. At least 125 people were killed and by some estimates more than 900 were injured.

The Associated Press found nine of the missing. Two, Mike and Betty Salzer, were at a hotel being used by visiting journalists.

"Well, for heaven's sakes," Betty Salzer, 74, said when the AP showed her the list.

The couple have been staying at the hotel since their home was destroyed Sunday. Betty Salzer said the couple's names might have come from a Facebook message her daughter posted before they reached her Monday morning.

Carthage resident Brenda Lombard told The Associated Press that six of her relatives on the list were safe and staying with friends. She said she was worried after the storm, but she talked to her nephew, Allen Merritt, 26, on Wednesday, and he, his wife, mother and three children are all safe.

She suspected a cousin who is a firefighter placed the family on the missing list after driving by her sister's house and seeing it demolished.

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