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Bad news and good as Greensburg digs out

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Monday, May 7, 2007, at 8 p.m.
  • Updated Thursday, Jan. 24, 2008, at 5:15 p.m.

— As residents searched for pieces of their lives, searchers found the body of another victim of the Greensburg tornado today.

That brings the number of dead in Kiowa County to nine. Two more victims from weekend storms died in Pratt and Ottawa counties.

Another body was found in the Kiowa County state fishing lake north of town, according to Wichita police who are helping with rescue and recovery.

For much of the day, it was believed that a second body had been found in the rubble of a home in the center of town, but it turned out to be merely a wig, according to Sharon Watson, spokeswoman for the Kansas Adjutant General's office.

Authorities released the names of five of the people killed in the Greensburg storm. It's the first time any victims have been officially identified. They were:

• Claude Hopkins, 79

• Larry Hoskins, 51

• David Lyon, 48

• Colleen Panzer, 77

• Ron Rediger, 57

This afternoon, Sens. Pat Roberts and Sam Brownback announced that President Bush will visit Greensburg on Wednesday.

The president is expected to talk with residents in nearby shelters and inspect the damage. His exact schedule has not yet been released by the White House.

Residents will be allowed into Greensburg again Tuesday to retrieve belongings, City Administrator Steve Hewitt said. He had earlier said that they would be allowed in today only.

Many residents' visits today were cut short by another evacuation, this time because of an anhydrous ammonia leak.

Rescuers were working to shore up a slight leak on a 30,000-gallon rail tanker damaged by the storm. While they were working on it, they broke off a 2-inch valve, causing a serious leak. All incoming traffic into Greensburg was stopped, and areas near the leak were evacuated.

A new valve was brought in from Dodge City.

Search and rescue will continue in Greensburg on Tuesday. "There is hope out there," Hewitt said. "People should contact the Red Cross if someone is still missing. We've gone through properties three different times and will continue that."

And the town's famous 1,000-pound meteorite is not lost after all. It was just hiding, under the rubble of the museum that has housed it for decades and is no more.

Billed as the world's largest pallasite meteorite, the rock was found right where it has rested for years: on the base of the display case that now lies shattered all around it and buried under a collapsed wall.

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