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An aerial view of debris and structural damage is seen at the Mayfield Consumer Products candle factory as search and rescue operations underway in Mayfield, Kentucky on December 11, 2021

An aerial view of debris and structural damage is seen at the Mayfield Consumer Products candle factory as search and rescue operations underway in Mayfield, Kentucky on December 11, 2021. (Photo: Tayfun CoÅkun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Kentucky Officials Fear Over 100 Dead, 'Years' of Recovery Following Tornado Devastation

"We're losing so many people in this, most of our morgues aren't big enough."

Andrea Germanos

The death toll from the series of tornadoes that erupted late Friday will likely top 100 in Kentucky alone, the state's Gov. Andy Beshear said Sunday, as fears grew there would be no further rescues from a collapsed candle factory in the devastated city of Mayfield.

"This is the deadliest tornado event we've ever had."

Speaking Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union," Beshear said least 80 Kentuckians were confirmed dead from the storm, but "that number is going to exceed more than 100."

Some towns are just "gone," the governor said, and called the situation "devastating" as a result of "massive, widespread damage."

The tornado that ripped through Mayfield may have been a continuous tornado that passed through four states as it traveled roughly 230 miles, potentially the longest on the books.

Beshear told NBC’s "Meet the Press" Sunday that "we're losing so many people in this, most of our morgues aren't big enough."

Significant loss of life was expected from a Mayfield candle factory hit by the tornado. According to reports, the factory had 110 people, including inmates, working inside at the time the tornado hit; so far, 40 people have been rescued.

Among those who made it out alive from the factory was Kyanna Parsons-Perez, who shared live video of the harrowing ordeal and pleaded for help as she and other workers were trapped for hours.

Speaking on NBC's "Today" show Saturday, Parsons-Perez said, "I did not think I was going to make it at all."

Beshear, in his remarks to CNN, said that "it'll be a miracle if we pull anybody else out of that" factory, where debris was stacked in places 15 feet high.

According to the Louisville Courier Journal:

Hours before the tornado hit the candle factory, the company posted on its Facebook page Friday afternoon that it was looking to hire employees. A recent listing for a full-time candle production position had a starting wage of $8 per hour and required 10- to 12-hour shifts.

The state recovery effort, said Kentucky's Director of Emergency Management Michael Dossett, could likely go on "for years," with efforts currently focused on Mayfield as well as the communities of Graves, Dawson Springs, and Bowling Green.

"The devastation," Dossett told CNN Sunday, "is quite frankly something that you would see in a war zone."


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