Kentucky Governor Confirms Tornado Death Toll Has Risen to 74, With 109 People Still Unaccounted
21:11 GMT 13.12.2021 (Updated: 13:28 GMT 14.12.2021)
Kentucky has emerged as the hardest-hit US state in a recent series of deadly tornadoes that touched down in the region. Around 300 members of the National Guard have been deployed to the state, where cadaver dogs are still searching for victims.
Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear (D) confirmed on Monday that at least 74 people have been found dead as a result of the recent twisters, and another 109 missing.
"Our newest estimate on deaths ... we are now up to 74 Kentuckians that we have lost," Beshear told reporters during an afternoon conference.
The death toll is expected to rise with new data, the Kentucky governor noted.
Beshear encouraged individuals across the country to donate to the Western Kentucky Relief Fund. Over $6 million has already been contributed to the fund via 44,358 donations.
"The relief fund is going to help families affected by the tornadoes address some of their most urgent needs—no administrative fees—all of it is going to go to those families," Beshear said.
Over the weekend, Western Kentucky endured at least four tornadoes, including a major twister that cut a swath of destruction over 200 miles (322 kilometers) long.
Mayfield, Kentucky, a town with an estimated population of 10,000, was hit particularly hard on Saturday night.
Among the collapsed buildings in the town is a Mayfield Consumer Products candle factory that housed around 110 workers at the time it was flattened. According to Beshear, the workers had only 20 minutes to take cover ahead of the powerful storm.
"I hope that area was as safe as it could be, but this thing got hit directly by the strongest tornado we could have possibly imagined," the Kentucky governor said on Sunday following reports that the deadly twister was at least an F3 and could potentially be reclassified as an F4 or even an F5.
A total of eight workers from the factory have been confirmed dead by the company while another 8 remain missing.