JOPLIN, Mo. - Friends and family paid tribute to victims of the Joplin tornado on Friday, beginning the painful task of burying the dead as officials said the savage storm's death toll had risen to 132 people.
As the first funeral began just over the Kansas border, city officials said the body count had gone up by six from the previous day. Missouri authorities, meanwhile, worked to pare down the list of people missing and unaccounted for after the deadliest single U.S. twister in more than six decades.
The original list of 232 missing or unaccounted for residents had dropped to 156 by Friday, said Andrea Spillars, the Missouri Department of Public Safety's deputy director, adding that at least 90 people on the initial list had been located alive.
But at least six others were identified as among the dead, and some new names had been added to the scroll of the missing. Authorities had cautioned for days that while they believed many on the list were alive and safe, others likely had been killed.
City manager Mark Rohr acknowledged during an afternoon news conference that there may be "significant overlap" between the confirmed dead and the remainder of the missing list. Still, search-and-rescue crews were undeterred, with 600 volunteers and 50 dog teams out again across the city.
"We're going to be in a search-and-rescue mode until we remove the last piece of debris," Rohr said.
A federal forensics team of 50 to 75 disaster mortuary specialists has been at work in six refrigerated trucks, collecting DNA samples for testing, taking fingerprints, and looking for tattoos, body piercings, moles, and other distinctive marks.
Earlier Friday, hundreds of mourners packed Tennessee Friends Prairie Church in Galena, Kan., for the first funeral of the tornado's confirmed victims.
Few mentioned the deadly twister, or even the circumstances under which Adam Dewayne Darnaby died four days short of his 28th birthday. Instead, they celebrated the life of a devout Christian who loved his wife of less than three years and was a favorite uncle to nine nieces and nephews.
Darnaby was described as a hunter, former high school football player, and avid fisherman who made fast friends. He watched little television because, in the words of a friend, "he was too busy living."
The funeral concluded with a recording of "A Country Boy Can Survive," a paean to rural life by Hank Williams Jr.
"That tornado was tiny," said Wes Davis, pastor of Riverton Friends Church in southeast Kansas, which Darnaby attended. "It was no match for Adam Darnaby."