70 people feared dead in US storms, toll may exceed 100

The storms hit a candle factory in Kentucky, an Amazon facility in Illinois and a nursing home in Arkansas. Beshear said about 110 people were in the Mayfield factory when the tornado hit.
The storms hit a candle factory in Kentucky, an Amazon facility in Illinois and a nursing home in Arkansas. Beshear said about 110 people were in the Mayfield factory when the tornado hit.Twitter: Screengrab/ @9NEWSAUS

Mayfield (US): At least 70 people were feared dead in Kentucky after tornadoes and severe weather tore through multiple states and caused catastrophic damage.

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear said at a news conference that the death toll may exceed 100.

This has been the most devastating tornado event in our state’s history, Beshear said.

The storms hit a candle factory in Kentucky, an Amazon facility in Illinois and a nursing home in Arkansas. Beshear said about 110 people were in the Mayfield factory when the tornado hit.

Kentucky State Police Trooper Sarah Burgess said search and rescue teams were going through the rubble Saturday but did not yet have a number for how many have died.

“We just cannot confirm a number right now because we are still out there working, and we have so many agencies involved in helping us,” Burgess said.

She said rescue crews were using heavy equipment to move rubble at the candle factory in western Kentucky. Coroners were called to the scene and bodies were recovered, but she did not know how many. She said it could take a day and potentially longer to remove all of the rubble.

President Joe Biden tweeted that he was briefed on the situation and pledged the” affected states would have what they need as the search for survivors and damage assessments continue.”

Kyana Parsons-Perez, an employee at the factory, was trapped under five feet (about 1.5 meters) of debris for at least two hours until rescuers managed to free her.

In an interview with TODAY, she said it was the absolutely the most terrifying event she had ever experienced. I did not think I was going to make it at all.

Just before the tornado struck, the building’s lights flickered. She felt a gust of wind, her ears started popping and then, Boom. “Everything came down on us. People started screaming,” and she heard Hispanic workers praying in Spanish.

Among those who helped rescue the trapped workers were inmates from the nearby Graves County Jail, she said.

They could have used that moment to try to run away or anything, but they did not. “They were there, helping us,” she said. Elsewhere in Graves County, the landscape was a scene of devastation with uprooted trees, downed utility poles, a store destroyed and homes severely damaged.

At least one person died at an Amazon facility in Edwardsville, Illinois, Police Chief Mike Fillback told reporters morning. The roof of the building was ripped off and a wall about the length of a football field collapsed.

Two people at the facility were taken by helicopter to hospitals in St. Louis, Fillback said. The chief said he did not know their medical conditions. Edwardsville is about 25 miles (40 kilometers) east of St. Louis.

It was not immediately clear whether the damage was caused by straight-line storms or a tornado, but the National Weather Service office near St. Louis reported radar-confirmed tornadoes in the Edwardsville area around the time of the collapse. (AP)

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