Disasters & Accidents

Kentucky governor: More than 80 known dead in tornadoes

Washington/Mayfield, Kentucky, Dec 12 (EFE).- Gov. Andy Beshear said Sunday that at least 80 people died in Kentucky in the barrage of tornadoes that swept across six US states on the weekend, adding that the death toll could exceed 100 when all the rubble is searched through.

He told CNN that he knew that more than 80 people lost their lives in Kentucky.

Beshear did not immediately provide a figure for the number of people missing in the wake of the storms but he said that just in Dawson Springs, a town of about 2,500 residents, the list of people whose whereabouts are unknown is about “eight pages” long.

He said that several of the towns blasted by the twisters had virtually “disappeared.”

“This is going to be some of the worst tornado damage that we’ve seen in a long time,” Beshear said of the spate of storms that leveled several towns. “This is likely to be the most severe tornado outbreak in our state’s history.”

Beshear said that one of the tornadoes that swept through the region on the weekend traveled for more than 227 miles on the ground, of which more than 200 miles were in Kentucky.

A series of tornadoes hit the area on Friday night and early Saturday morning, razing vast zones of six states, leaving dozens dead and causing significant material damage, including completely destroying numerous homes and several huge warehouses where hundreds of people were working at the time.

The states hit by the severe storms and tornadoes included Arkansas, Illinois, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Missouri.

Mayfield is another of the Kentucky towns hit hardest by the storm, which ripped off the roofs of many homes and buildings and obliterated many structures, as well as tossing vehicles, light aircraft and other objects about like little toys.

Mayfield Mayor Kathy Stewart O’Nan warned on Sunday that the low temperatures in the region are of “immediate concern” for local authorities.

She told CNN that it was getting pretty cold in the area and warned that her town does not have potable water service in the wake of the storm, which knocked out electric power across a wide swath of territory.

“We hope for a miracle … in the days to come,” she said in an interview with NBC regarding whether those missing and trapped in the rubble will be found alive, adding “But right now what we hope for is that our surviving people are warm and cared for and have a place to shelter.”

In Mayfield, with its approximately 10,000 residents, rescue and recovery efforts continued on Sunday at a candle factory that was decimated by the storm while 110 people were inside working to fill holiday orders. So far, just 40 of those employees have been pulled from the rubble alive, although many of them were injured.

EFE lb-abm/lll/bp

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