Death Toll Rises After Severe Tornado Storms: ‘Devastation Unlike Anything I Have Ever Seen In My Life’
Damaged buildings following a tornado in Mayfield, Kentucky, U.S., on Saturday, Dec. 11, 2021. Tornadoes ripped across several U.S. states late Friday, killing more than 70 people in Kentucky, at least two at a nursing home in Arkansas and an undetermined number at an warehouse that was partially flattened in Illinois.
Liam Kennedy / Bloomberg via Getty Images

Officials said late on Saturday that more than 80 people have died as a result of dozens of tornadoes that ravaged several Midwest and southern states late on Friday night and early Saturday morning as rescue efforts remain ongoing for those still trapped in collapsed structures.

“Gov. Andy Beshear of Kentucky said that at least 70 had been killed, and the state’s death toll could increase to more than 100,” The New York Times reported. “Officials said that at least six people had been killed at an Amazon warehouse in Illinois, four had died in Tennessee and two had died in Arkansas.”

At least 30 tornadoes were reported throughout Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, and Tennessee. The largest tornado that struck the region tore through more than 200 miles in Kentucky.

The Washington Post reported:

The “quad-state tornado” was unusually long-lasting and strong for the time of year, weather experts said. The twister, which ripped through Monette, Ark., and Mayfield, Ky., on Friday evening is likely to have carved out a 240-mile path, crossing into Missouri and Tennessee, as well. If the tornado remained on the ground without interruption, it would rank as the longest tornado track in U.S. history and the first to cross through four states. … In the quad-state tornado’s path, weather radar detected debris from a twister for more than three hours straight, sometimes lofted over 30,000 feet into the sky.

Beshear said that the devastation was “unlike anything I have ever seen in my life” and he predicted that the number of deaths counted by the end of the day could go well over 100 before the end of the day.

Hundreds of thousands of homes were left without power, including 136,000+ in Tennessee, approximately 60,000 in Kentucky, 25,000+ in Arkansas, roughly 24,000 in Illinois, and nearly 10,000 in Missouri.

Some of the most devastating scenes included a collapsed Amazon warehouse and a candle factory that was destroyed with more than 100 people inside.

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos weighed in Saturday afternoon on the several lives that were lost at the Amazon warehouse in Edwardsville, Illinois.

“The news from Edwardsville is tragic. We’re heartbroken over the loss of our teammates there, and our thoughts and prayers are with their families and loved ones,” he said. “All of Edwardsville should know that the Amazon team is committed to supporting them and will be by their side through this crisis. We extend our fullest gratitude to all the incredible first responders who have worked so tirelessly at the site.”

“I’m monitoring the situation very closely since early this morning.  This is likely to be one of the largest tornado outbreaks in our history,” President Joe Biden said on Saturday. “I want to emphasize what I told all the governors: The federal government will do everything — everything it can possibly do to help.”

This report has been updated to include additional information. 

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