The governor of Kentucky said at a news briefing Saturday morning that a tornado touched down for more than 200 miles late Friday, resulting in devastation and possibly deaths across 10 counties.
"Everywhere along the line of this tornado, that touched down and stayed down for 227 miles — over 200 in Kentucky — has been severely and significantly impacted," Gov. Andy Beshear said.
"The level of devastation is unlike anything I’ve ever seen," he continued. "You see parts of industrial buildings, roofs or sidings, and trees — if trees are lucky enough to stand — huge metal poles bent in half, if not broken; buildings that are no longer there; huge trucks that have been picked up and thrown; and, sadly, far too many homes that people were likely in, entirely devastated."
"This will be, I believe, the deadliest tornado system to ever run through Kentucky," he said.
Among the worst-hit places in the state was Mayfield, Kentucky, where about 110 people were inside a candle factory when the tornado hit. Dozens were still feared dead Saturday.
"Earlier this morning, at about 5 a.m., we were pretty sure that we would lose over 50 Kentuckians. I’m now certain that number is north of 70. It may, in fact, end up exceeding 100 before the day is done," Beshear said. "The damage is even worse now that we have first light."
Emergency workers search through what is left of the Mayfield Consumer Products Candle Factory after it was destroyed by a tornado in Mayfield, Kentucky, on December 11, 2021. (Photo by John Amis / AFP)
Local officials said national guard members and emergency workers from across the state were pouring into Mayfield to help with the search and rescue operation.
Tornadoes and severe weather ripped through multiple states late Friday, causing catastrophic damage.
The storms also hit an Amazon facility in Edwardsville, Illinois, where at least one person died, and a nursing home in Arkansas, killing one person and trapping 20 others inside as the building collapsed.
Three storm-related deaths were also confirmed in Tennessee, said Dean Flener, spokesman for the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency.
This story was reported from Detroit. The Associated Press contributed.