Kentucky tornado: More than 100 still missing and 74 dead, governor says

Ages of the dead range from two months to 98 years, Andy Beshear says

Gustaf Kilander
Washington, DC
Tuesday 14 December 2021 18:33
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Related video: Bowling Green Community Unites After Kentucky Tornado

More than 100 people are still unaccounted for on top of the 74 Kentuckians who have been confirmed dead following the havoc caused by a tornado on Friday, Governor Andy Beshear has said.

“If there’s good news, it’s that our death count has not gone up since yesterday,” he said during a press briefing on Tuesday. He added that eight of the dead remain unidentified or their identities have not yet been released to the public.

“The age range has gotten even harder,” Mr Beshear said. “It ranges now from two months to 98 years of the Kentuckians that we have lost.”

“There are unquestionably more than 100 people that are still unaccounted for, but multiple local and federal search and rescue missions continue,” the governor added.

Mr Beshear said that damage assessments are still going on and that “major work continues to remove debris from roadways and restore or replace damaged traffic signals”.

“But I tell you what, it feels pretty good to not just be pushing this stuff out of the way, but to be loading it up and taking it out of town,” he added.

The governor said it was “therapeutic” to be “taking that chaos and destruction and death and getting it out of some of those areas”.

Workers at a candle factory in Mayfield, Kentucky that was destroyed in the storms have said that they were threatened with being fired if they left early as tornado warnings came in.

At least four workers have told NBC News that bosses said they couldn’t leave even as warning sirens could be heard. At least eight workers in the factory died.

“As of yesterday evening, the volunteer cadaver dogs have not indicated anything additional in the debris at the candle factory,” Mr Beshear said on Tuesday. “The owners believe that they have located everyone. We hope that is true – the level of debris could be impacting the canines, but we certainly hope that our prayers were answered and that it’s just eight that are ultimately lost there.”

“If you saw it in person, you believe that’s a miracle. The level of absolute destruction in one place,” he added. Around 110 workers were at the factory when it was destroyed.

Reporters asked the governor if the state will look into the reports of threats against the employees and if it’s time for Kentucky companies to revisit tornado protocols.

“Certainly, after seeing a tornado like this, I think we all ought to look back at protocols anytime we lose 74 people statewide,” Mr Beshear said. “Let’s see what we can do better. And I hope there are things that we can do better.”

“But I think this will end up being an F-5 tornado,” he added. “If you’re in the path of it, I’m just not sure how much you can do when you see the destruction it has wrought.”

He said the state will look into the allegations “through the appropriate agency”.

“Everybody is expected to live up to certain standards of both the law of safety and being decent human beings and I hope everybody lived up to those standards,” the governor said.

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