Kentucky tornado death toll likely ’70-100 lost lives,’ governor says

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FRANKFORT, KY. (WKRN) – More than 50 people are dead from tornados that hit Western Kentucky overnight Friday into Saturday morning, Governor Andy Beshear confirmed.

Multiple counties were affected by the storms. One of the hardest-hit cities in Kentucky was Mayfield, Governor Beshear said in a press conference, describing the area as “devastated.”

A roof reportedly collapsed at a candle factory resulting in mass casualties. The governor stated that the death toll has exceeded 50 Kentuckians but will, “probably end up closer to 70-100 lost lives.”

“We are nearing the end of the most severe tornado event in Kentucky’s history,” Beshear said. “Multiple tornadoes have touched down, and we have damage in, I believe, over a dozen Kentucky counties. The primary tornado was on the ground continuously for over 200 miles in our state — something we have never seen before.”

  • A feed store damaged by a tornado is seen in Mayfield, Ky.,on Saturday, Dec. 11, 2021. Tornadoes and severe weather caused catastrophic damage across multiple states late Friday, killing several people overnight. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)
  • A large semi trailer is flipped over and pushed against a building in Bowling Green, Ky., on Saturday, Dec. 11, 2021. Tornadoes and severe weather caused catastrophic damage across multiple states late Friday, killing at least six people overnight as a storm system tore through a candle factory in Kentucky, an Amazon facility in Illinois and a nursing home in Arkansas. (AP Photo/Dylan T. Lovan)
  • A woman searches for valuables amidst the remnants of a home on Saturday, Dec.11, 2021, on Highway F in Defiance, Mo. Tornadoes and severe weather caused catastrophic damage across multiple states late Friday. (Christian Gooden/St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP)
  • Workers use equipment to remove a section of roof left on a heavily damaged Amazon fulfillment center Saturday, Dec. 11, 2021, in Edwardsville, Ill. The a large section of the roof of the building was ripped off and walls collapsed when a strong storms moved through area Friday night. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
  • The Amazon distribution center is partially collapsed after being hit by heavy winds on Friday, Dec. 10, 2021 in Edwardsville, IIl. (Robert Cohen/St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP)
  • The Amazon distribution center is partially collapsed after being hit by a tornado on Friday, Dec. 10, 2021 in Edwardsville, Ill. (Robert Cohen/St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP)

He also believed there were additional deaths in “possibly many” of the state’s counties, but said Graves county, where the candle factory was located, was hardest hit. The collapse will likely result in “at least dozens” dead, he said.

181 national guardsmen have been deployed for search, extractions, and debris clearance.

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