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Death toll from Friday's tornadoes in South, Midwest surpasses 80

Officials fear casualties will climb
Midwest Tornadoes
Midwest Tornadoes
Midwest Tornadoes Kentucky
Posted at 7:29 AM, Dec 13, 2021

The death toll continues to grow following tornadoes and severe storms in several southern and Midwestern states late Friday night and early Saturday morning.

Kentucky was the hardest-hit state. Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said Monday afternoon that 74 Kentuckians are confirmed dead. The dead include children and the elderly. Beshear added that at least 100 people are still unaccounted for.

Officials have focused rescue and recovery efforts on a candle factory in Mayfield, a rural town in western Kentucky. The tornado leveled the facility, killing eight people.

The death toll was feared to be much higher.

"The Christmas miracle we hoped for, but we need to make sure it's accurate," Beshear said.

Late Monday, Scripps station WLEX in Lexington reported the remaining workers have been accounted for.

“Many of the employees were gathered in the tornado shelter and after the storm was over they left the plant and went to their homes,” said the company's spokesperson Bob Ferguson. “With the power out and no landline they were hard to reach initially.”

The Associated Press says that the storms killed 14 others in Illinois, Tennessee, Arkansas and Missouri.

Aerial images taken over the weekend showed wide swaths of damage throughout the region — home after home, building after building completely leveled by Friday's storms.

Thousands of people in the area are currently without homes.

"It’s hard to understand how something like this — or why something like this — happens," said Beshear. "It is just awful. And the people who lost everything but are still here with us, it’s hard to think of them as lucky, but...this is really hard. But we’re going to make it."

President Joe Biden will travel to Kentucky on Wednesday. He is expected to visit Mayfield and Dawson Springs, two of the hardest-hit areas in Kentucky.