Deadly Tornado Kills More Than 50 in Kentucky; Governor Declares State of Emergency

The death toll in Kentucky might rise to between 50 and 70 in the wake of the deadly quad-state tornado storm that hit America on Friday, December 10, night. Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear announced the same during a news conference Saturday morning, stressing that reports of mass casualties have emerged from multiple counties. "This is one of the toughest nights in Kentucky's history," he said.

Beshear noted that dozens were reported at a candle factory in Mayfield, where around 110 people were trapped inside the building leveled by the storm. The governor then declared a state of emergency early Saturday morning and even submitted a request for a federal emergency declaration. According to the New York Post, officials suggested that this might be the most devastating and largest tornadoes to ever hit Kentucky.

After multiple reports of people trapped in collapsed buildings mid the storm emerged, Governor Beshear deployed the National Guard with 181 guardsmen for search and rescue and recovery operations. "We will get make it through this, we will rebuild," he said during the press conference. A graphic provided during the news briefing showed that the tornado traveled a total of 223 miles after it first touched down.

The Graves County Courthouse in Mayfield, Kentucky damaged in the storm
The Graves County Courthouse in Mayfield, Kentucky damaged in the storm Screen grab - KEMA/Twitter

Train derailment, building collapse

At least 18 tornadoes reportedly hit across four states, Arkansas, Kentucky, Illinois, and Missouri causing severe damage to properties and mass power outages. The director of Kentucky's Division of Emergency Management, Michael Dossett noted that rescue and search efforts had begun even before the wind stopped blowing early Saturday morning.

A train derailment caused by the storm was reported in Madisonville, Kentucky. No casualties, however, were reported in the accident. The freight train in question was transporting hazardous materials. An Amazon distribution warehouse was leveled to the ground after being hit by the tornado. At least two casualties were reported at the site, while hundreds were reportedly trapped inside the building, Edwardsville Police Chief Michael Fillback informed Saturday morning.

'Mass casuality event'

It was not clear how many people were affected by the roof collapse, but local emergency services called it a 'mass causality' event. "My prayers are with the people of Edwardsville tonight, and I've reached out to the mayor to provide any needed state resources," Illinois Governor JB Pritzker said in a tweet.

Amazon warehouse in Illinois after hit by Tornado
Amazon warehouse in Illinois after hit by Tornado Screen grab - Chris Phillips/Maverick Media Group, LLC via Reuters
This article was first published on December 11, 2021