Chris Lange, FISM News
At least 50 people are “likely” dead as a result of devastating tornadoes that ripped through parts of the Midwest late Friday and early Saturday. Reuters reports that the catastrophic storm system affected parts of Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, and Tennessee, resulting in multiple fatalities and leaving behind a swath of destruction, in some cases trapping people inside of buildings.
The tornadoes could be the largest and most devastating to ever touch down in Kentucky, according to state officials. A spokesperson for the state’s Emergency Management Service said the number of deaths or injuries had not yet been determined as of early Saturday. Many are feared dead as a result of a tornado that barreled through a Mayfield, Ky. candle factory.
Governor Andy Beshear declared a state of emergency around 5 a.m. Saturday during a live press conference, calling it “one of the toughest nights in Kentucky’s history.” Beshear said deaths were reported in “multiple counties,” adding, “We are here for you. We love you. We are praying for you.” Fifty deaths have been reported thus far in the state, though Beshear said the number could rise, possibly significantly.
“The reports are really heartbreaking,” he told the New York Post.
Video shows utter devastation after tornadoes tear through Kentucky, leaving at least 50 dead. https://t.co/SqAqtO3MT0 pic.twitter.com/hJlUgzIC6P
— ABC News (@ABC) December 11, 2021
Early reports coming out of Tennessee indicate that at least three people have died as a result of the violent storm system.
At least one person is dead and several others injured as a result of a tornado that tore the roof off a nursing home in Monette, Arkansas.
Authorities in Illinois reported a “mass casualty incident” at an Amazon.com warehouse in Edwardsville after one tornado ripped through the building, trapping several people inside. The Collinsville Emergency Management Agency has not yet confirmed any deaths or injuries.
“My prayers are with the people of Edwardsville tonight, and I’ve reached out to the mayor to provide any needed state resources,” Illinois Governor JB Pritzker tweeted.
The National Guard and all state emergency services are being deployed throughout the affected states as search and rescue efforts remain underway. Power outages have been reported in several affected areas.
The U.S. National Weather Service issued tornado warnings on Friday night for areas in several states including Arkansas, Tennessee, Missouri and Illinois.