Stunning video/audio taken as Missouri tornado passes over store

Published: May. 23, 2011 at 4:06 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 22, 2011 at 4:19 PM EDT
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A view of the tornado that hit the town of Joplin (Source: CNS Newspath)
A view of the tornado that hit the town of Joplin (Source: CNS Newspath)
Twenty-five percent of structures were damaged in the tornado. (Source: CNN)
Twenty-five percent of structures were damaged in the tornado. (Source: CNN)

JOPLIN, MO (WBTV/RNN) - At least 116 died after a massive tornado slammed the city of Joplin, MO, Sunday evening - a number that will continue to rise as rescue teams sift through the rubble.

Meanwhile, a disturbing and violent video of 18 people narrowly surviving the tornado in a store walk-in freezer is showing just how intense and frightening such an experience can be.

At least 25 percent of the city was damaged by Sunday's storm, according to the Springfield-Greene County Office of Emergency Management. More victims are buried in collapsed structures.

A man took cell phone video during the storm at a convenience store called at Fastrip and then posted the video on YouTube.

The video shows the utterly frightening experience of riding out a tornado in a building. There was total chaos during most of the video – which was dark – but had audio that was extremely compelling and harrowing.

For about 2 minutes of the nearly 6-minute video there is nothing but screams and parts of phrases.

"I cant see my mother… oh!!!!" a woman screams in the darkness. "I love everyone man… I love you…" a man says to another man who rode out the storm.

At one point the storm seems to die down. "We're good," a man says. Just moments later chaos ensures as more debris is thrown around.

"Oh heavenly father," a woman says as the tornado, which was at least a half-mile wide, tore through area at about 5:30 p.m. CT on Sunday.

Then things calm again, allowing some folks to dig out. They discover they are all intertwined.

"You guys OK?" one man asks. "Yes," another man says.

"Is everyone OK.. I am trying not to lay on someone." a man says.

A woman replies ""Someone is on my back…."

At last a man is heard saying "Stay calm this is the end of it. Stay calm…"

Then another man says "It is done" while people were heard crying.

Charlotte - Mecklenburg Emergency Management Director, Wayne Broome, says he thinks some smart choices were made.  Broome was impressed after the first wave of bad weather people were instructed to ride out the storm in a walk in refrigerator.

"It's usually a fairly sturdy structure," Broome said.  "It's a very confined space - with the newer systems, there is always a way to get out the door. It unlocks from the inside."

Broome believes it was also a good move for the people to stay inside the store a little longer to stay out of harm's way.

"Sometimes it doesn't hurt to wait," the Emergency Director said.  "Until someone comes and says "Is anyone there?", then you yell out and they can direct you out to safety."

Governor Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency late Sunday and activated the National Guard to aid in search and rescue.

Healthcare professionals are being called in to assist with injuries. The Red Cross is activating volunteers.

A St. John's Regional Medical Center spokesperson has reported that patients are being moved to other facilities.

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