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At least 50 dead in Kentucky as storms batter US

By Guardian Nigeria
11 December 2021   |   11:20 am
At least 50 people are dead after a tornado ripped through the southeastern US state of Kentucky, its governor told reporters, as storms ravaged large swathes of the country.

EDWARDSVILLE, IL – DECEMBER 10: First responders surround a damaged Amazon Distribution Center on December 10, 2021 in Edwardsville, Illinois. According to reports, the Distribution Center was struck by a tornado Friday night. Emergency vehicles arrived to start rescue operations for workers believed to be trapped inside. Michael Thomas/Getty Images/AFP Michael Thomas / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP

At least 50 people are dead after a tornado ripped through the southeastern US state of Kentucky, its governor told reporters, as storms ravaged large swathes of the country.

Several counties in Kentucky were devastated, with the strongest tornado tearing 200 miles through the state, governor Andy Beshear said.

“I fear that there are more than 50 dead … probably closer to somewhere between 70 and 100, it’s devastating,” he said, adding this was the “most severe tornado event in Kentucky’s history”.

The governor said a roof collapse at a candle factory “resulted in mass casualties” in the city of Mayfield.

“Before midnight I declared a state of emergency,” Beshear said.

The tornado came as storms wreaked havoc in multiple US states.

A storm earlier tore through a massive Amazon warehouse in the US state of Illinois on Friday, officials said, with local media reporting around 100 workers trapped inside.

Officials were working through the early hours of Saturday to rescue employees at the facility — a third of which was reduced to rubble — who were on the night shift processing orders ahead of the Christmas holidays.

The Collinsville Emergency Management Agency described it as a “mass casualty incident” with “multiple subjects trapped at Amazon Warehouse”.

A tornado warning had been in effect in the area at the time of the incident.

Footage shared across US news channels and social media of the Edwardsville Amazon warehouse showed a large part of the facility’s roof ripped off while one of the walls had collapsed into the building, with rubble strewn across the site.

It was not immediately clear if anyone was hurt or killed.

Illinois Governor JB Pritzer said: “My prayers are with the people of Edwardsville tonight.”

“Our Illinois State Police and Illinois Emergency Management Agency are both coordinating closely with local officials and I will continue to monitor the situation,” he added.

In a statement sent to local media, Amazon spokesperson Richard Rocha said “the safety and well-being of our employees and partners is our top priority right now. We’re assessing the situation and will share additional information when it’s available.”

In Arkansas, one person was killed and 20 others were trapped after a tornado struck the Monette Manor nursing home, US media reported.

Craighead county official Marvin Day told local news channels that rescuers had successfully pulled out those trapped in the building while the structure was “pretty much destroyed”.

In Tennessee, at least two people were killed in storm-related incidents, an emergency management official told local media.