Death Total Feared to be Hundreds After Tornado Ravaged Midwest

In Summary

Experts believe over 80 people died in Kentucky in wake of the massive tornado that was on the ground for at least 200 miles. 

The deadly tornado that wiped out midwestern towns over the weekend has dissipated, but experts believe the death total will climb to over 100. 

The death toll in Kentucky is unofficially reported at 80, leading to Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear to announce the tornado was the deadliest in the state’s history. 

Weather experts identified five EF-3 tornadoes across the region, which included in the flattened town of Mayfield, Kentucky.  

A staple in the city, the Mayfield Consumer Products candle factory, collapsed into a massive pile of debris. Rescuers are still ciphering through the rubble. 

“There’s at least 15 feet of metal with cars on top of it, barrels of corrosive chemicals that are there. It will be a miracle if anybody else is found alive in it,” Beshear said. “Downtown is completely devastated.” 

Across the Midwest, Illinois reported six weather-related accidents, Tennessee with four, and Missouri and Arkansas accounting for two. 

Beshear said 18 counties reported tornado-related damage with 36,000 to 50,000 people reporting outages on Sunday. 

“To the people of America, there is no lens big enough to show you the extent of the damage here in Graves County or in Kentucky,” Beshear said. 

The state also opened up state parks to house those affected by the tornado. 

“We are taking them in. We are trying to guarantee everyone a two-week stay so they’re not worried about tomorrow,” the governor said. “They can worry about finding their relatives, making sure their kids have enough to eat.” 

The National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center reported at least 50 tornadoes across eight states, which stretched for more than 250 miles from Arkansas to Kentucky. 

Deanne Criswell, the FEMA administrator, also believes climate change created the “new normal” in random tornadoes and severe storms. 

“The effects we are seeing of climate change are the crisis of our generation,” Criswell said. “We’re taking a lot of efforts at FEMA to work with communities to help reduce the impacts that we’re seeing from these severe weather events and help to develop systemwide projects that can help protect communities.” 

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