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13 Dec, 2021 15:19

Death toll from harrowing Kentucky tornadoes announced

Death toll from harrowing Kentucky tornadoes announced

At least 64 people have been confirmed dead in Kentucky after a devastating tornado cluster tore through the state over the weekend, Governor Andy Beshear has announced. At least 105 Kentuckians remain unaccounted for.

Speaking on Monday, Beshear told a news conference that authorities had confirmed 64 deaths, noting that the ages of the deceased range from five months to 86 years. The governor suggested the toll could rise further, given the number of people still missing.

He also stressed that the numbers are “fluid and will change. Sometimes they have, thank God, gone down, other times they’ve gone up.”

"It may be weeks before we have counts on both deaths and levels of destruction," Beshear noted. 

Beshear also noted that the state was working to confirm comments from the boss of the Mayfield candle factory suggesting that 110 workers were in the facility on Friday night when the tornado system struck.

Mayfield Consumer Products said on Sunday that 94 candle factory workers were alive and accounted for, but eight were dead and a further eight still missing. “We are working to confirm that,” Beshear told reporters on Monday. “We feared much, much worse, and again, I pray it is accurate.”

Beshear labelled the weekend’s spate of intense storms as the “worst tornado event in the history of our commonwealth.” 

According to the governor, lives were lost in eight counties, while at least 18 counties experienced damage from the storms and tornadoes which swept across the southeastern state.

US President Joe Biden has declared a “major disaster” in Kentucky and ordered federal resources to be allocated to the state and its recovery. Deaths were also reported in nearby and neighboring Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee and Illinois.The National Weather Service said the so-called “supercell” – sometimes referred to as rotating thunderstorms – is believed to have travelled some 250 miles.