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At least 70 people are thought to have been killed in Kentucky, and there are multiple fatalities at an Amazon distribution center in Illinois, after at least 18 tornadoes ripped across the South and Midwest of the US on Friday.
Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear said at a briefing midday on Saturday the death toll was now 'north of 70' and that 'it may in fact end up exceeding 100 before the day is done.'
'This will be, I believe, the deadliest tornado system to ever run through Kentucky,' he added. 'It is indescribable. The level of devastation is unlike anything I have ever seen.'
The early casualty estimates suggest that the tragedy is the deadliest tornado strike in Kentucky in more than a century, on a scale last seen in 1890 when twisters killed 76 in the Louisville area.
One tornado among the dozens that struck is estimated to have a damage path of more than 200 miles, which would approach or exceed the all-time global record.
The epicenter of the destruction was the town of Mayfield, a small city of about 10,000 people in the far western part of Kentucky, where the Bluegrass State borders Illinois, Missouri and Arkansas. Entire blocks were flattened, with houses and buildings ripped apart, and twisted metal, shattered tree limbs and bricks scattered across streets.
The roof of a candle factory collapsed in Mayfield, resulting in 'mass casualties' according to Beshear. He said 110 people were working in the factory, and that only 40 had been rescued alive from the rubble as of midday Saturday.
'We're going to lose a lot of lives at that facility. I pray that there will be another rescue, another one or two, but it's a very dire situation at this point,' said the visibly emotional governor.
Elsewhere, in southern Illinois, authorities said at least two were dead and up to 50 people were trapped after a roof collapsed at an Amazon warehouse near St. Louis late on Friday, when tornadoes and strong storms blew through the area.
At least two were killed and five were injured when a tornado shredded the roof of a nursing home in Monette in northern Arkansas and another person killed in Missouri.
A further three people were killed in the severe weather in Tennessee, Dean Flener, spokesman for the state's Emergency Management Agency said.
Downtown Mayfield is seen decimated after the worst tornadoes in a century carved a path of destruction in Kentucky
The courthouse in Mayfield, Kentucky was heavily damaged as multiple tornadoes tore through parts of the lower Midwest late on Friday night leaving a large path of destruction and unknown fatalities
Emmanuel Baptist Church is seen in the aftermath of the tornadoes on Friday in Mayfield, Kentucky on Saturday morning
Heavy damage is seen Saturday downtown Mayfield, a small city of about 10,000 people in the far western part of Kentucky, where the Bluegrass State borders Illinois, Missouri and Arkansas
Governor Beshear said the damage was 'some of the worst we've seen in a long time' in the town of Mayfield (above Saturday)
A large semi trailer is flipped over and pushed against a building in Bowling Green, Kentucky on Saturday. Tornadoes and severe weather caused catastrophic damage across multiple states late Friday
Heavy damage is seen to the town courthouse after a tornado swept through the area on in Mayfield, Kentucky
At least two were dead and many people were trapped after a roof partially collapsed at this Amazon warehouse after a tornado passed through Edwardsville, Illinois
Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear said on Saturday morning the death toll was now 'north of 70' and that 'it may in fact end up exceeding 100 before the day is done'
It a rude nature.. hope others are safe.. ..
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