MAYFIELD, Ky. (AP) — A monstrous tornado, carving a track that could rival the longest on record, ripped through the middle of the U.S. in a stormfront that killed dozens and tore apart a candle factory, crushed a nursing home, derailed a train and smashed an Amazon warehouse.

“I pray that there will be another rescue. I pray that there will be another one or two,” Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear spoke as crews searched through Mayfield’s wreckage, where 110 workers were employed overnight when Friday’s storm struck. They rescued forty-five of them.

“We had to, at times, crawl over casualties to get to live victims,” said Jeremy Creason, the city’s fire chief and EMS director.

Only 22 people were killed in Kentucky on Saturday afternoon. Beshear stated that up to 70 people may have died when the twister struck more than 200 miles (332 kilometers) from his state. He also said that there could be more deaths in 10 other counties.

There were 30 deaths in five states, including four in Tennessee, two in Arkansas and one each in Missouri and Illinois.

If early reports are confirmed, the twister “will likely go down perhaps as one of the longest track violent tornadoes in United States history,” said Victor Genzini, a researcher on extreme weather at Northern Illinois University.

In March 1925, the longest known tornado was tracked through Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana for approximately 220 miles (355 km). Genzini claimed that the twister could have touched down at nearly 250 miles (405 kilometers). He said that the storm was even more impressive because it occurred in December when tornadoes are less common due to colder weather.

Mayfield is a small city in Western Kentucky that has about 10,000 inhabitants. The ground was covered in debris from burned buildings and trees. The streets were lined with metal sheeting and downed power lines, as well as wrecked cars.

Janine Denise Williams, 50 year-old mother of four and a member of her family, was one among the missing at candle factory. Family members kept watch on Saturday.

“It’s Christmastime and she works at a place that’s making candles for gifts,” her brother, Darryl Williams, said. “To give up the gift of life to make a gift. We haven’t heard anything, and I’m not presuming anything. But I’m expecting for the worst.”

Johnson Williams had called her husband over the night to inform him that the weather was becoming severe. That’s the last she heard from anyone.

Kyanna Parsons Perez was an employee of the factory. She was stuck under five feet (about 1.5m) of debris for two hours before rescuers were able to release her.

In an interview with NBC’s “Today,” she said it was “absolutely the most terrifying” event she had ever experienced. “I did not think I was going to make it at all.”

Just before the tornado struck, the building’s lights flickered. She felt a gust of wind, her ears started “popping” and then, “Boom. Everything came down on us.” People started screaming, and she heard other workers praying.

According to her, inmates of nearby Graves County Jail assisted the workers by rescuing them.

“They could have used that moment to try to run away or anything, but they did not. They were there, helping us,” she said.

Sarah Burgess of the Kentucky State Trooper stated that rescue crews used heavy equipment in order to clear rubble at the candle plant. Coroners were called to the scene and bodies were recovered, but she didn’t know how many. It could take several days to clear all the rubble, and possibly even longer.

Rescue efforts were complicated because Mayfield’s main fire station and emergency services hub were also hit by the tornado, Creason said.

Joe Biden, the President of the United States, approved Saturday’s emergency declaration for Kentucky. He also pledged support to affected states.

“I promise you, whatever is needed — whatever is needed — the federal government is going to find a way to provide it,” Biden said.

According to Mike Fillback, police chief, at least one person was killed in the Amazon warehouse in Edwardsville, Illinois. Fillback spoke Saturday morning. The building’s roof was torn and a wall measuring about five football fields collapsed.

Fillback stated that two people from the facility were taken by Fillback to St. Louis hospitals, approximately 25 miles (40 km) away. According to Fillback, the chief did not have any information about their health conditions. The rubble was being sorted by rescue teams on Saturday. To help with the removal of debris, cranes and backhoes have been brought in.

“This is a devastating tragedy for our Amazon family and our focus is on supporting our employees and partners,” Amazon spokesperson Richard Rocha said in a written statement.

The tornado that struck the National Weather Service office near Weldon Spring in Missouri was causing workers to flee their offices. This is about 30 miles (48 km) west of St. Louis. A building collapse near New Melle (both just a few kilometers from the Weather Service office) resulted in one death and two other injuries.

“This was an incredible storm that lasted a long time and covered a lot of territory,” said Larry Vannozzi, meteorologist in charge of the National Weather Service office covering the Nashville area.

Meteorologists haven’t determined whether the storm spawned a single tornado or multiple tornadoes, he said.

A tornado decimated a Monette nursing facility, killing one, and trapping others as it fell, Craighead County Judge Marvin Day reported to The Associated Press. He stated that five of the victims sustained severe injuries.

One person was killed when the hurricane struck a Dollar General Store in Leachville. Asa Hutchinson stated.

“Probably the most remarkable thing is that there’s not a greater loss of life,” Hutchinson said after touring the wreckage of the nursing home. “It is catastrophic. It’s a total destruction.”

According to the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, four storm-related deaths have been confirmed in Northwestern Tennessee.

Dylan Lovan was in Mayfield, Seth Borenstein, in Washington, D.C., Travis Loller, in Nashville, John Raby, in Charleston, West Virginia, Jeff McMurray, in Chicago, contributed to this article. Salter reported from O’Fallon, Missouri.


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