JOPLIN, Mo., May 24 (UPI) -- The tornado that flattened much of Joplin, Mo., this weekend could cost insurance companies up to $3 billion, crisis consultants EQECAT Inc. said Tuesday.
The tornado that struck the city of 50,000 with winds up to 198 mph killed 116 people, making it the deadliest tornado in the United States since 1947.
No single tornado has killed more than 100 people since 1953, EQECAT said in a statement.
The tornado was registered as an EF4 storm, one level shy of the deadliest EF5 tornadoes that include wind speeds above 200 mph.
The storm that hit Joplin on Sunday, however, could still be upgraded as surveys of the damage continue.
Initial reports indicate 5,000 to 10,000 buildings have been damaged with 2,000 buildings destroyed.
EQECAT said the minimal bill for the storm would be in the range of $1 billion.