Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear said he expects 70 to 100 deaths from tornadoes that set the stage for destruction across western Kentucky late Friday through Saturday morning, in what could turn into the deadliest event in the state’s history.
“We’re going to lose more than 50 people, probably closer to somewhere between 70 and 100,” Bashir said. “It’s devastating.”
By Saturday morning, Beshear said four different tornadoes had hit, with most of the destruction coming from a tornado that began in Arkansas and spanned more than 220 miles, all the way to Breckenridge County.
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He said deaths would be reported in Graves, Marshall, Warren and Hopkins counties, adding that he would “be surprised if we don’t lose people in at least five or more counties.”
According to the National Weather Service, the deadliest event in state history occurred in Jefferson County in 1890, when 76 Kentucky residents were murdered.
Just over 70 people were killed in Kentucky by tornadoes in many states in 1974.
Beshear said he expects “at least dozens” of deaths from the roof collapse of a candle factory in Mayfield, Kentucky, where about 110 employees worked, when the tornado hit the small western Kentucky town just after 10:30 p.m. EDT.
The governor declared a state of emergency before midnight, activated the National Guard and is deploying 181 guards — including search, extraction and debris removal personnel — who will arrive in affected communities Saturday morning.
“This was one of the toughest nights in Kentucky history,” Bashir said. “Some areas were exposed in ways that are hard to describe in words.” “To all of the Kentucky families affected by this, we want you to know that we are here for you, we love you, and we pray for you.”
This story will be updated.
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