A series of devastating tornadoes that touched down on parts of central and southern United States late Friday into early Saturday has claimed the lives of over 80 people and counting, CNN reports
According to meteorologists, over 30 tornadoes have touched down across at least six states, including Missouri, Tennessee, and Mississippi, stretching more than 250 miles from Arkansas to Kentucky.
The greatest impact of the storms so far caused the collapse of “an occupied candle factory in Kentucky, an Amazon warehouse in western Illinois, and a nursing home in Arkansas, killing people in each community and leaving responders scrambling to rescue others.”
Gov. Andy Beshear of Kentucky said the the Bluegrass state has never experienced destruction like this before.
"I'm pretty sure that number (killed in Kentucky) is north of 70 ... it may, in fact, exceed 100 before the day is done," Beshear said. "The level of devastation is unlike anything I have ever seen."
In the city of Mayfield, Kentucky, a tornado hit the Mayfield Consumer Products candle factory Friday night while people were still working. Around 110 people were inside and dozens are feared dead there, Beshear added.
"They rescued 40," he said at a news conference Saturday afternoon. "There's at least 15 feet of metal with cars on top of it, barrels of corrosive chemicals that are there, it will be a miracle if anybody else is found alive in it."
In Dawson Springs, which has a population of around 2,700, Beshear noted, "they're going to lose a whole lot of people."
"One block from my grandparent's house, there's no house standing and we don't know where all those people are," Beshear said.
12 children are among the fatalities in Warren County, Kentucky, the coroner's office confirmed on Saturday afternoon.
Kentucky state officials along with the National Guard are being deployed for "house-to-house" searches and debris removal for the areas most impacted, Beshear said.
"I want to thank every local emergency management employee, police officer, firefighter, and first responder. This has been one of the toughest nights in Kentucky history. It's hard to put into words," he said in a later statement. "Remember, each of these lost lives are children of God, irreplaceable to their families and communities. But we will make it through this. We will rebuild. We are strong, resilient people—and we're going to be there every step of the way. This is one state standing strong."
Beshear has declared a state of emergency.
Although Kentucky has not yet released a total death toll, numerous deaths have been reported in Arkansas (two), Tennessee (four), Illinois (six), and Missouri (two).
We extend our prayers and condolences to the family and friends of all those who lost their lives.