Kentucky tornado: Warehouse left badly damaged in Mayfield
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Speaking about the tragedy, residents recalled hearing harrowing screams of people who were injured or killed in the storm. US president Joe Biden declared a major federal disaster in Kentucky after a swathe of deadly tornadoes hit the state on Friday. Governor Andy Beshear fears the death toll could exceed 100, adding: “I’ve got towns that are gone, that are just, I mean gone. My dad’s hometown – half of it isn’t standing.”
He also said going door-to-door was out of the question because, in some of the hardest-hit areas, “there are no doors”.
Eighty people were confirmed to have died in Kentucky alone during the storm, which saw 30 tornadoes tear through the Midwest.
A further 14 people were killed in Illinois, Tennessee, Arkansas and Missouri.
At least eight people were killed in a candle factory in Mayfield, after the roof was torn off by the wind, while another eight workers are still missing.
Kyanna Parsons-Perez, one of the employees at the factory, told NBC: “They had us in the area where you go in case there’s a storm, and we were all there and then the lights got to flickering and all of a sudden we felt a gust of [wind], we could feel the wind and then my ears kind of started popping as they would as if you were on a plane.”
She said “everything came down on us”, adding: “All you heard was screams.”
The girlfriend of an employee who was trapped in the wreckage, Brandy, told ABC: “I wasn’t able to get a hold of him.
“You know, so I started panicking and then a while later he called me and he said that he’s trapped under all the debris and he can’t see nothing, he wasn’t sure if anyone was going to be able to find him
“I could hear people screaming left and right, and I got scared because he called me and said ‘I love you, tell mom I love her. I’m sorry, I tried.’
“In that moment I collapsed because I thought he was going to die, I thought my worst nightmare was coming true, and I didn’t her from him for hours.
“I felt like my whole world had ended, I felt like I was moving in slow motion, not knowing anything, and then when he called me when he got out of the rubble, it was just instant relief.”
Gov. Beshear called it the “most severe tornado event in Kentucky’s history.”
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However, speaking about the death toll in the Mayfield candle factory, Bob Ferguson, a spokesperson for Mayfield Consumer Products, which owns the factory said: “There were some early reports that as many as 70 could be dead in the factory.
“One is too many, but we thank God that the number is turning out to be far, far fewer.”
He said 90 people had been located in the factory, of the 110 employees working there that night.
When asked if he thought the severity of the storms was a product of the climate crisis, Mr Biden said: “All I know is that the intensity of the weather across the board has some impact as a consequence of the warming of the planet.
“The specific impact on these specific storms, I can’t say at this point.”
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