Joplin, Missouri (ANTARA News/AFP) - President Barack Obama on Sunday called last week`s tornado that claimed scores of lives here "a national tragedy" as he prepared to attend a memorial service for the dead.

"This is not just your tragedy. It is a national tragedy and there will be a national response," Obama said.

The massive tornado, which killed 142 people in this town of 50,000, was one of the worst ever in the United States. Missouri Governor Jay Nixon said Sunday that 44 people remain missing.

"We`re going to be here long after the cameras are gone," Obama said. "We`re not going to stop until Joplin jumps back on its feet."

Later Sunday, Obama will take part in a memorial service.

The president`s motorcade drove through some of the hardest-hit areas, stopping along with Nixon to talk to residents, many of whose homes were destroyed by the 200 miles per hour (300 kilometer per hour) winds. (*)

Editor: Kunto Wibisono
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