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11 Dec, 2021 11:17

At least 70 feared killed by tornados, Kentucky governor says

In Kentucky alone, a series of powerful tornados claimed more than 70 lives, according to the governor. Numerous deaths have also been reported elsewhere in the Midwest.

Governor Andy Beshear told local media on Saturday that the death toll may be up to 100, after a powerful twister leveled a candle factory in the town of Mayfield, with dozens of workers inside at the time disaster struck.

Beshear described Friday night as “one of the toughest nights in Kentucky history,” adding that “some areas have been hit in ways that are hard to put into words.” Local authorities believe this weekend’s storms could end up being more devastating than the 1974 tornado outbreak that killed 71 people.

Beshear declared a state of emergency overnight, calling in the National Guard to help deal with the aftermath, and also urged the federal government to declare a state of emergency. In Graves County, the hardest-hit area in the state, the tornado battered the local courthouse and nearby prison. The authorities have sent “two tractor-trailers filled with water” to secure the area’s drinking water supply.

The massive destruction in Kentucky was caused by several of the 24 tornadoes that were reported across five states – Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, and Tennessee. The storms are expected to continue over the weekend, moving eastward, likely affecting major cities like Nashville, Memphis, and Shreveport.

In Edwardsville, Illinois, a wall – approximately the length of a football field – caved in along with the roof of an Amazon warehouse, burying up to 100 workers under the rubble. Local police have so far confirmed two fatalities, with one of the victims already identified as 29-year-old Clayton Cope, according to media reports. The search and rescue operation is ongoing.

In the town of Monette, Arkansas, a tornado hit a nursing home, reportedly killing two people and injuring 20 more. Another nursing home in the same area was also ravaged by a twister, which fortunately resulted in no known casualties.

Interstate 555 was blocked in the state after a vehicle overturned, according to an Arkansas Emergency Management spokesperson, while in Kentucky, a trail derailed amid the severe conditions. Also, around 200,000 customers reportedly lost power, with outages affecting six states.