UPDATED 9:52 AM PT – Saturday, December 11, 2021
The death toll has continued to climb as more than 30 tornadoes tore through five Southern and Midwest states overnight. Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee and Kentucky reported deaths, injuries and damages Friday night.
Some of the tornadoes are estimated to have been EF4s, which qualify as one of the strongest weather events on earth.
An Amazon warehouse collapsed in Illinois, leaving dozens of employees trapped inside. Further, in Missouri, at least one person was killed and three more injured when a tornado struck down in St. Charles County.
“This is the most significant event that I can recall in a good long while here in our community,” said first responder Kyle Gaines. “But thankfully, we do have a large number of first responders both on our ambulance side, as well as the fire protection side that are well trained in a variety of rescue tactics that we’re utilizing.”
In Arkansas, two people died and at lease five were injured after the roof of a nursing home was ripped off. In addition, Kentucky was hit especially hard, prompting Gov. Andy Beshear (D) to declare a state of emergency for his state.
A devastating outbreak of tornadoes ripped through Kentucky and five other U.S. states, killing dozens of people and leaving a trail of destruction. The primary tornado traveled more than 227 miles across the state, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear said https://t.co/NXwnqNNbhS pic.twitter.com/fi9h0Lg0hK
— Reuters (@Reuters) December 11, 2021
One tornado reportedly stayed on the ground for more than 200 miles. The governor confirmed that more than 70 people have been killed, but the death toll could well exceed 100, far surpassing the previous worst storm to hit the state almost 50 years ago.
“We believe our death toll from this event will exceed 50 Kentuckians, probably end up closer to 70 to 100 lost lives,” said Beshear. “Remember, each of these are children of God, irreplaceable to their families and to their communities.”
Over 50,000 people in Kentucky alone are without power due to the storms.
The governor also described a roof collapsing at a candle factory in Mayfield, Kentucky as a “dire situation.” He said as many as 110 people may have been in the building.
Though rescue efforts are currently underway, the death toll is expected to rise due to all of the heavy machinery and caustic materials inside the factory.