Residents walking down street after tornado, Joplin, Missouri/AP
JOPLIN, Mo. (AP) -- Demolition work is under way on the Joplin hospital that took a direct hit from the deadly tornado last year.
Demolition crews began work Wednesday with a 5,000-pound wrecking ball on what remains of St. John's Regional Medical Center, emptied since the May 22, 2011, EF5 tornado wiped out a huge swath of Joplin. The tornado killed 161 people, including six people at the hospital.
Hospital spokeswoman Angella Saporito says crews will dismantle the hospital's two, multi-story towers, taking the buildings down in sections. She says the entire process is expected to take several weeks.
The building is being replaced with a new complex along Interstate 44. The new hospital is scheduled to completed in 2015.
The hospital held a ceremonial start to the demolition in January.