FRANKFORT, KY. (WKRN) – More than 50 people are dead from tornados that hit Western Kentucky overnight Friday into Saturday morning, Gov. Andy Beshear confirmed.
A roof reportedly collapsed at a candle factory in the town of Mayfield, resulting in mass casualties. The governor stated that the death toll in the state has exceeded 50 Kentuckians, but will “probably end up closer to 70-100 lost lives.”
Gov. Beshear shared the update early on Saturday morning during a briefing on the state’s response.
“We are nearing the end of the most severe tornado event in Kentucky’s history,” he opened the briefing. “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.”
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 in Kentucky, Gov. Beshear added.
A state of emergency was declared late on Friday night. Gov. Beshear also submitted a request for federal assistance to the president.
“I want to personally thank every local EMS employee, police officer, firefighter and first responder,” the governor added on Twitter. “And to all of our Kentucky families impacted by these devastating tornados, we want you to know we are here for you and we are praying for you.”
Kentucky was just one of several states devastated by severe weather and tornado events on overnight from Friday into Saturday. At least two people were killed when a nursing home collapsed in Monette, Arkansas, and another two were killed at an Amazon facility in Edwardsville, Illinois, which had its roof ripped off during the storm.
Residents in Tennessee and Missouri have also lost their lives, according to local reports.