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The Latest: Eclipse draws world travelers to Missouri

 (AP Photo)

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- The Latest on the eclipse in Missouri (all times local):

1:55 p.m.

People from around the world converged on Missouri to watch the solar eclipse.

Among the crowd that gathered Monday at the Missouri Capitol were husband and wife David Colon and Mariana Perez, from Alajuela, Costa Rica. They flew along with his brother to Oklahoma, where their mother lives, and then drove as a family to Jefferson City.

They said the long trip was well worth it.

As the total eclipse faded, Perez said: "It's amazing -- I mean, God is amazing."

It was the second eclipse they had witnessed -- the first occurring in 1991 in Costa Rica when they were just children. Perez said the night-time-like chirping of crickets during the afternoon solar eclipse brought back memories of that childhood event.

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Noon

Hundreds are gathering on the lawn of the Missouri Capitol to watch the eclipse.

Jefferson City is one of about a dozen places in the U.S. where NASA will livestream the solar eclipse and people drove for hours to observe it in Missouri's capital city on Monday.

Joplin resident Carlos Sanchez says he first saw a solar eclipse when he was in high school in the Philippines. He said he was blown away, and a little frightened, by a phenomenon that he didn't then think was possible.

Now Sanchez is waiting in Jefferson City to watch another solar eclipse with his 7-year-old daughter.

Emmanuel Thao came to Missouri's Capitol with his family to see the eclipse, which is happening on his 14th birthday. He said he's an astronomy buff and is excited to see what looks like a burning circle around the moon when the eclipse happens.

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10:45 a.m.

Hospitals and emergency management agencies are preparing for a total solar eclipse to blot out the sun.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that some hospital systems in the St. Louis area are activating their emergency response plans, increasing staff including eye experts.

For the past month, agencies and health providers have been working together to make sure they're prepared to respond to any situation that may arise.

Nick Gragnani is director of St. Louis Area Regional Response System, a regional group that coordinates planning and communication for large-scale events and disasters. He says that, "Everybody is preparing for the worst and hoping for the best."

St. Louis University Hospital is prepared to increase staff by as much as 25 percent.

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8:10 a.m.

Emergency responders are urging drivers to not stop on roads or pull off on shoulders to view the eclipse.

The Columbia Daily Tribune reports that authorities are most concerned about traffic problems during the brief span Monday when the moon totally blocks out the sun. Missouri State Highway Patrol Sgt. Scott White says the agency will be on the lookout for drivers parking on the highway. He says that is "always a possibility."

The highway patrol will have additional officers stationed on Interstate 70 and U.S. 63 and 54. White says at least one officer will be located every 20 miles on each of the highways to promote safety and mitigate any traffic issues.

The patrol also is reminding boaters to check their navigation lighting, which will need to be lit during the total eclipse.

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12:07 a.m.

Rural Missouri is preparing for its moment in the sun. Check that: Its moment out of the sun.

A diagonal 300-mile-long, roughly 70-mile-wide stretch from St. Joseph to Cape Girardeau will be in what's called the "path of totality" that will offer the best viewing of the total eclipse on Monday. It's the first total eclipse of the sun in 99 years that will be visible coast-to-coast in the U.S.

Missouri tourism officials expect up to 1.3 million visitors for a glimpse. Hotel rooms in prime viewing spots are mostly sold out.

Much of the best viewing is in rural areas. St. Louis and Kansas City are not in the path of totality. The Missouri Department of Transportation warns that traffic could be congested in places where it normally isn't.

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