Devastating details emerge after dozens of tornados 'kill 100 people'

·3-min read

One of the most devastating tornado events in US history has torn a trail of destruction spanning more than 300 kilometres across central and southern states.

Officials fear more than 100 people may have been killed.

The unprecedented outbreak overnight saw more than 30 twisters rip through at least six states, including Missouri, Tennessee and Mississippi, leaving buildings beaten down to their slabs, cars overturned and trees stripped of branches.

A general view of damage and debris after a devastating outbreak of tornadoes ripped through several U.S. states, in Mayfield, Kentucky, U.S., December 11, 2021. Picture taken with a drone. REUTERS/Cheney Orr
At least 100 people are feared dead in Kentucky after a swarm of tornadoes tore through the U.S. Midwest and South. Source: REUTERS/Cheney Orr

There’s widespread chaos as rescuers scramble to access the damage and search for survivors beneath the rubble.

US President Joe Biden has announced federal resources will be directed to the locations impacted by the series of tornadoes.

Kentucky reduced to 'matchsticks'

Some of the worst destruction was centred in Western Kentucky, where at least 78 people have been killed - many of whom were working at a candle factory when the roof caved in late on Friday (local time).

The town of Mayfield was reduced to "matchsticks", its mayor said.

"It’s indescribable - the level of devastation is unlike anything that I have ever seen," Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear said.

"This has been the most devastating tornado event in our state's history."

Mr Beshear said 40 of the 110 workers had been rescued from the factory so far.

"Earlier this morning at about 5 am, we were pretty sure that we would lose over 50 Kentuckians. I’m now certain that number is north of 70. It may, in fact, end up exceeding 100 before the day is done," he added.

Aerial view of a candle factory after a tornado tore through, in Mayfield, Kentucky, U.S., December 11, 2021, in this still image taken from a video. Video taken with a drone. Michael Gordon/Storm Chasing Video via REUTERS
Many workers remain unaccounted for after a tornado destroyed a candle factory in Kentucky. Source: REUTERS/Michael Gordon - Storm Chasing Video

Among the survivors is Kyanna Parsons-Perez, a worker at the plant, who said employees could hear howling winds as the lights began to flicker.

"We could feel the wind ... then we did a little rock," she told NBC. "And then boom everything came down on us."

Nearby fire and police stations in Mayfield have also been reduced to rubble, hindering rescue efforts.

State officials have declared a mass causality event.

At least two dead at nursing home

Two residents at a nursing home are dead and five others seriously injured after a tornado hit Monette, a city in the southern US state of Arkansas.

"It just took a direct hit from the tornado," Craighead County Judge Marvin Day said.

"We were very blessed that more people weren't killed or injured in that. It could have been a whole lot worse.”

Irene Noltner consoles Jody O'Neill outside The Lighthouse, a women and children's shelter that was destroyed by a tornado along with much of the downtown of Mayfield, Kentucky, U.S. December 11, 2021.  Matt Stone/USA TODAY NETWORK via REUTERS
Authorities are still searching the rubble for survivors. Source: REUTERS/Matt Stone/USA TODAY NETWORK

Another person lost their life at a Dollar General Store a few kilometres away.

"It really sounded like a train roaring through town,” Lt. Chuck Brown of the Mississippi County Sheriff's Office in Arkansas said.

In Illinois, an Amazon warehouse collapsed in the town of Edwardsville, killing at least two workers. The roof appeared to have been peeled back off the metal skeleton of the building.

A CSX company freight train in western Kentucky also derailed in the wild weather, although a company spokesperson has confirmed no crew were injured.

With Reuters

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