Kentucky Tornado Death Toll Rises to 74 As Search Continues

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear confirmed that weekend tornadoes had killed at least 74 people in what he described as “unspeakable trauma” for the state and its residents.

According to official data, the victims were from at least eight different counties and were between five months and 86 years old. Authorities have not yet identified 18 people.

At least 109 people are still missing, Governor Beshear said, adding that more deaths could be confirmed in the coming days.

Over 400 National Guard members have joined emergency workers to clean up debris, distribute water and deliver generators to residents as search and rescue efforts continue in western Kentucky.

Rescue personnel has also used cadaver dogs to search for people through the rubble, finding bodies in some places, the governor said. 

At a press conference on Monday, Mr. Beshear said: “I’m not doing so well today and I’m not sure how many of us are. The people of Western Kentucky have gone through an unspeakable trauma.”

“The devastation is unlike anything I have seen in my life,” he went on.

Authorities also confirmed eight deaths at a candle factory, where 110 employees were feared to be trapped in the storm. Eight of the factory’s workers were reported missing, the government said.

Mr. Beshear said the tornado had wreaked havoc along 365 kilometers, destroying thousands of people’s homes and leaving at least 26,000 houses without power. In response, state parks were opened to shelter affected families.

The state government also said that a relief fund to cover the victim’s funeral expenses had already raised more than $6 million and pledged to give $5,000 to families who lost a loved one. All state flags were lowered for a week in honor of the deceased.

Four other US states reported at least 13 more deaths, including Illinois, where an Amazon warehouse in Edwardsville collapsed, killing six people.

Four deaths were also confirmed in Tennessee, one person died in Missouri, and two more were killed after a nursing home in Arkansas partially collapsed. The government also reported a tornado in Mississippi, but no fatalities have been confirmed in that state.