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ST. LOUIS — A federal agency says its two-year study of the deadly 2011 Joplin tornado shows that stronger building codes and improved emergency communication systems can save lives.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology released its 492-page draft report Thursday at a Joplin, Mo., news conference. The U.S. Department of Commerce agency called the study the first to take a systematic look at how communities across the country can better prepare for tornadoes.

The May 2011 Joplin tornado destroyed 8,000 buildings and killed 161 people, making it the country's deadliest single tornado since records have been kept.

The study documents 47 specific findings and offers 16 recommendations. But institute officials emphasized that most of the power to make such changes rests with state and local governments and private businesses.

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