Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear on Sunday said he believes more than 100 people in the state have likely died after tornadoes swept through the area over the weekend.
An official death count has not been released but Beshear, appearing in a popular US television program, said at least 80 Kentuckians were feared dead with that number expected to rise.
“I know we’ve lost more than 80 Kentuckians. That number is going to exceed more than 100,” he said. “This is the deadliest tornado event we’ve ever had.”
He also told that a 3-year-old in Graves County and a 5-year-old in Muhlenberg County were among those killed.
“I know we’ve lost a number of kids,” said Beshear. “This tornado didn’t discriminate. Anybody in its path, even if they were trying to be safe, again, just like nothing we’ve ever seen before.”
Additional deaths have been reported outside of Kentucky including six at an Amazon warehouse in Illinois, four in Tennessee, two in Arkansas and two in Missouri.
Beshear did not provide a specific answer when asked how many Kentuckians remain unaccounted for after the tornadoes but referred to “the massive, widespread damage” as he said rescue efforts remain underway.
“I’ve got towns that are gone — that are just, I mean, gone,” he said. “I mean you go door-to-door to check on people and see if they’re okay. There are no doors. The question is, is there somebody in the rubble of thousands upon thousands of structures. I mean, it’s devastating.”
As of Saturday, 40 of the 110 employees at a candle manufacturing factory in Mayfield, Ky., that was destroyed on Friday night had been rescued but Beshear said it would be “a miracle” for anyone else to be found alive despite understanding the facility had an emergency plan in place.
“They did have a plan inside the facility and most of the workers got to what was supposed to be the safest place,” he said. “But when you see the damage that this storm did not just there, but across the area, I’m not sure there was a plan that would have worked.”
President Joe Biden on Saturday declared an emergency in Kentucky and told reporters he plans to travel to the region to survey storm damage once circumstances allow.