Washington: Tornados rip through across the Midwest and southern US including states of Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri and Tennessee, with dozens feared dead and tens of thousands of households running out of power.
At least 30 tornados were reported overnight, with Kentucky being the hardest-hit state, Xinhua news reported, citing a leading US-based media network.
“We believe our death toll from this event will exceed 50 Kentuckians, probably end up closer to 70 to 100 lost lives,” Kentucky’s governor Andy Beshear said at a briefing Saturday morning on the storm damage and the state’s response.
“It has been one of the toughest nights in Kentucky history,” Beshear said. “Some areas have been hit in ways that are hard to put into words.”
Calling the storms that hit the state “the most severe tornado event in Kentucky’s history,” Beshear declared an official state of emergency.
Speaking to the media network, Kentucky Director of Emergency Management Michael Dossett described the damage caused by tornadoes in his state as “one of the darkest days in the state’s history.”
“This will be one of the most significant, the most extensive disasters that Kentucky has faced,” Dossett said on Saturday, urging residents to remain indoors unless it’s an emergency.
Dossett said that “all assets” are heading to Western Kentucky, one of the hardest hit areas, including the National Guard and incident management teams.
Bob Blankenship, mayor of Monette, Arkansas, said on Saturday that his town was in a “daze” after a tornado ripped through the area overnight.
Two deaths were reported as of this morning in Monette and one in a nearby town, Blankenship said.
Power is also out in the town, and Blankenship said he does not know when it will be back.
As of 8:30 a.m. (1330 GMT) on Saturday, over 136,000 customers alone in Tennessee, are without power, show data from PowerOutage.US reports.
An Amazon warehouse in Edwardsville, Illinois, partially collapsed in the storm.
The town’s police chief Mike Fillback confirmed in a press conference Saturday morning at least two people were dead, and rescue efforts are going slowly for the safety of first responders.
Fillback said dozens of people were able to leave the scene without serious injury, although it is impossible to give an exact number since some were able to walk away without assistance.