May 28, 2011 12:17 AM by Matt Stafford

Missouri tornado death toll at 132; funerals begin

JOPLIN, Mo. (AP) - Tallying and identifying the dead and the missing remains a challenge for emergency officials in Joplin, Mo.

At least 19 bodies have been released to relatives. That's just a small fraction of the overall count of 132. Identification has been slow because officials have taken extra precautions since a woman misidentified one victim as her son.

Dozens of mortuary specialists have been at work in six refrigerated trucks, collecting DNA samples for testing, taking fingerprints and looking for distinctive marks.

Officials say they've removed scores of names from a list of people believed missing or not yet contacted. That number stands at 156. The initial list was about 230.

And the first of many funerals has been held.



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