Sunday, January 29

Dozens are feared dead in central US after tornado, governor says

At least 70 people are feared to have died in the US state of Kentucky after tornadoes struck several Midwestern states.

“This has been the most devastating tornado event in our state’s history,” Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear said, emphasizing that the death toll is likely to rise.

The tornado hit a factory in Mayfield, Kentucky, where there were 110 people at the time, the governor said.

“It’s very difficult, really difficult, and we are praying for each and every one of those families,” he said.

US President Joe Biden said he was told about “devastating tornadoes in the central United States.”

“Losing a loved one in a storm like this is an unimaginable tragedy. We are working with governors to make sure they have what they need as they continue to search for survivors and damage assessments,” Biden tweeted.

Meanwhile, at least one person died after severe weather hit an Amazon facility in Edwardsville, Illinois, Police Chief Mike Fillback told reporters Saturday. The roof of the building was ripped off and a wall the length of a football field collapsed.

It was not immediately clear whether the damage was caused by straight-line storms or a tornado, but the National Weather Service office near St. Louis reported “radar-confirmed tornadoes” in the Edwardsville area around the time of the collapse.

Approximately 30 people who were in the building were taken by bus to the police station in nearby Pontoon Beach for evaluation.

Rescue teams were still sorting the debris in the early hours of Saturday, and the process was expected to take several hours.

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“The safety and well-being of our employees and partners is our top priority at this time,” Amazon spokesman Richard Rocha said in a written statement late Friday. “We are assessing the situation and will share additional information when it becomes available.”

About 30 miles west of St. Louis, workers at a National Weather Service office took cover when a tornado passed nearby.

Storms and tornadoes hit the entire central US.

A tornado struck the Monette Manor nursing home in Arkansas on Friday night, killing one person and trapping 20 people inside when the building collapsed, Craighead County Judge Marvin Day told The Associated Press.

Five people suffered serious injuries and some others suffered minor injuries, he said. The nursing home has 86 beds.

Day said another nursing home about 20 miles away in Truman was badly damaged, but no injuries were reported. The residents were evacuated because the building is not safe.

Three storm-related deaths were confirmed in Tennessee, said Dean Flener, a spokesman for the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency. Two of the deaths occurred in Lake County and the third in Obion County, both in the northwestern corner of the state.

In Kentucky, several buildings collapsed during the severe weather that hit Mayfield, said Sarah Burgess, an officer with the Kentucky State Police.

In Bowling Green, Western Kentucky University said on Twitter that emergency crews were assessing significant damage from the storm and no immediate injuries were reported. However, the school canceled the graduation ceremonies that were planned for Saturday because the campus had no power.

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“We obviously suffered significant wind damage,” said Ronnie Ward, a Bowling Green police spokesman, in a telephone interview.

Rescue efforts in Bowling Green and elsewhere were hampered by debris strewn across the roads. Ward said numerous apartment complexes in Bowling Green suffered major structural damage and some factories collapsed during the storms.

“Right now we are focusing on citizens, trying to reach everyone who needs us,” Ward said.

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