More than 30 tornadoes have been reported in at least six states. A stretch of more than 200 miles from Arkansas to Kentucky might have been hit by one violent, long-track twister, CNN meteorologists say.
Among the most significant damage: Tornadoes or strong winds collapsed an occupied candle factory in Kentucky, an Amazon warehouse in western Illinois, and a nursing home in Arkansas, killing people at each site and leaving responders scrambling to rescue others.
“We believe our death toll from this event will exceed 50 Kentuckians, probably end up closer to 70 to 100 lost lives,” Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said at a briefing Saturday morning.
One of the most devastated sites is the southwestern Kentucky city of Mayfield, where a tornado hit a candle factory Friday night while about 110 people were inside, Beshear said.
“We believe we’ll lose at least dozens of those individuals,” the governor said.
First responders have pulled “many, many” people out of the rubble, some alive and some apparently dead, storm chaser Michael Gordon told CNN Saturday morning from the scene.
“It’s kind of hard to talk about. … They’re digging in that rubble by hand right now,” Gordon said.
Other buildings hit in Mayfield, a city of around 10,000 people, include the Graves County courthouse and adjoining jail.
“It’s changed the landscape … here in Mayfield,” Kentucky State Police Lt. Dean Patterson said. “We’re seeing (destruction) that none of us have ever seen before.”
Deaths also have been reported in Illinois and Arkansas.
At the collapsed Amazon warehouse in the Illinois city of Edwardsville outside St. Louis, at least two people were killed, and rescue attempts were underway Saturday, Police Chief Mike Fillback said.
In the northeastern Arkansas city of Monette, at least one person was dead after a tornado damaged a nursing home Friday, trapping others inside before being rescued. At least 20 were also injured at the facility, Mayor Bob Blankenship told CNN.
More than 340,000 homes and businesses had lost power across seven states by 7:45 a.m. ET Saturday — including more than 137,000 in Tennessee and more than 70,000 in Kentucky, according to poweroutage.us.