Sunday, December 12, 2021
More than 70 feared dead in Kentucky as severe weather caused catastrophic damage across multiple southern US states.
US President Joe Biden has pledged support to states affected by a swarm of devastating tornadoes that demolished homes, levelled businesses and left at least 100 people feared dead.
Describing the tornadoes as likely “one of the largest” storm outbreaks in history, Biden on Saturday approved an emergency disaster declaration for the worst-hit state of Kentucky, where at least 22 people have been confirmed dead.
“It’s a tragedy,” said a shaken Biden. “And we still don’t know how many lives are lost and the full extent of the damage.”
He added, “I promise you, whatever is needed – whatever is needed – the federal government is going to find a way to provide it.”
Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear said the collection of tornadoes was the most destructive in the state’s history. He said about 40 workers had been rescued at the candle factory, which had about 110 people inside when it was reduced to a pile of rubble.
It would be a “miracle” to find anyone else alive under the debris, Beshear said.
“The devastation is unlike anything I have seen in my life and I have trouble putting it into words,” Beshear said at a press conference. “It’s very likely going to be over 100 people lost here in Kentucky.”
Video and photos posted on social media showed brick buildings in downtown Mayfield flattened, with parked cars nearly buried under debris.
Mayfield Fire Chief Jeremy Creason, whose own station was destroyed, said the candle factory was diminished to a “pile of bent metal and steel and machinery” and that responders had to at times “crawl over casualties to get to live victims”.