Dozens Dead as Tornadoes Race Across Kentucky
Beshear said it’s likely that western Kentucky’s death toll may exceed 50 people.
The governor shared the disturbing estimate during a phone interview with WLKY-TV of Louisville.
At a news conference, Beshear said the grim figure may reach between 70 and 100 dead, across five or more counties.
He said about 110 people were inside a candle factory in Mayfield when the tornado struck and expects "dozens" of the employees have died.
Beshear said a single tornado tore across the state in a sustained way for more than 200 miles – and at least four different tornadoes struck the state during the night.
"It hit Mayfield as hard as just about any town," the governor said.
Other nearby towns were also hit, he said.
"We know that we’re likely to have more than 50 deaths, if not significantly north of that, from this event," Beshear told the station.
"We know that we’re likely to have more than 50 deaths, if not significantly north of that, from this event."
— Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear
He advised Kentucky residents to stay as safe as they can and warned them to stay off the roads as emergency crews continued their response.
He declared a state of emergency and deployed the National Guard, he said.
Police departments and other agencies were using heavy equipment to clear fallen trees and other debris, he said.
Beshear warned that severe storms were still in the area and more damage could happen during the morning hours.
Earlier Saturday morning came reports that hundreds of customers were without electricity in Jefferson County, Kentucky, with an estimated 20,000 or more losing service statewide, the Louisville Courier-Journal reported.
Prior to Beshear's phone interview on television, the Kentucky State Police warned that "Loss of life is expected," in a social media post around 1 a.m. Saturday.
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