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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

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. Tornadoes ripped through five U.S. states overnight, leaving more than 70 people dead Saturday in Kentucky and causing multiple fatalities at an Amazon warehouse in Illinois that suffered "catastrophic damage" with around 100 people trapped inside. The western Kentucky town of Mayfield was "ground zero" of the storm—a scene of "massive devastation," one official said. (Photo: John Amis/AFP via Getty Images)

Massive Devastation After Dozens of Deadly Tornadoes Rip Through Multiple States

"The devastation is unlike anything I have seen in my life."

Andrea Germanos

Rescue efforts are underway after over 30 tornadoes including a potentially historic quad-state twister ripped across multiple states in the South and Midwest late Friday, causing catastrophic destruction and scores of deaths.

"The devastation is unlike anything I have seen in my life," said Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear, "and I have trouble putting it into words."

In addition to Kentucky, affected states included Arkansas, Illinois, Missouri, Mississippi, and Tennessee.

At a morning press briefing in the devastated city of Mayfield, Beshear said he was "certain" the death toll "is north of 70. It may in fact end up exceeding 100 before the day is done."

As weather historian Bob Henson wrote Saturday, that figure would be historic.

"No U.S. tornado is known to have killed more than 80 people outside the core tornado season from April to June," he wrote at Yale Climate Connections, adding that "it's quite uncommon for intense tornadoes to strike as far north as Illinois and Kentucky in early winter."

According to the Associated Press:

The storms hit a candle factory in Kentucky, an Amazon facility in Illinois and a nursing home in Arkansas. Officials had confirmed 29 deaths, including 22 in three Kentucky counties. Beshear said about 110 people were in the Mayfield factory when the tornado roared through.

Debris from destroyed buildings and shredded trees covered the ground in Mayfield, a city of about 10,000 in western Kentucky. Twisted metal sheeting, downed power lines, and wrecked vehicles lined the streets of what was barely recognizable as a town.

Aerial imagery revealed vast destruction in Mayfield.

The tornado that hit Mayfield, as NBC News reported, was one that passed through four states—Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee, and Kentucky—and was "produced by a parent thunderstorm that traveled more than 230 miles... over the course of four hours."

President Joe Biden said Saturday that "this is likely to be one of the largest tornado outbreaks in our history."

"It's a tragedy," he said. "And we still don't know how many lives are lost or the full extent of the damage. I want to emphasize what I told all the governors, the federal government will do everything, everything it can possibly do to help."


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