MAYFIELD, Ky. (WNCN/AP) – Saturday more than 70 people are confirmed dead after tornadoes struck Kentucky, and the Midwest, Friday, and the state’s governor, Andy Beshear, has risen his casualty estimate from 50 to 70 just hours after making his original claim.
“This has been the most devastating tornado event in our state’s history,” Beshear said at a news conference Saturday. “We lost people in multiple counties (and) this was part of a tornado that was on the ground for more than 200 straight miles,” Beshear said. “This is something we’ve never seen.”
The death toll of 36 across five states includes six people in Illinois, where an Amazon facility was hit; four in Tennessee; two in Arkansas, where a nursing home was destroyed; and two in Missouri.
“It’s obvious we had major wind damage,” Ronnie Ward said, a Bowling Green police spokesman, in a telephone interview to the Associated Press.
The various tornadoes tore apart a candle factory, crushed a nursing home, derailed a train and smashed an Amazon warehouse.
Rescue efforts in Bowling Green and elsewhere were hampered by debris strewn across roads. Ward said numerous apartment complexes in Bowling Green had major structural damage, and some factories had collapsed during the storms.
Multiple reports said Bowling Green took one of the largest hits, having significant damage impact homes and businesses, too.
“We are hurting this morning,” he said in the interview seen via Twitter early Saturday. “Once dawn breaks we’ll get a better idea of just how staggering this loss is. As we sit here right now, we know our death toll is going to exceed 50, probably going to be closer to 70 to 100. It’s a real tough morning in Kentucky.”
But as of 11:25 a.m., that number is now reaching 70 and has surpassed 50, AP confirms.