Gov. Beshear: Death toll could be between 70 and 100 people after tornadoes touch down in Kentucky

Posted at 2:13 AM, Dec 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-11 14:21:29-05

Gov. Beshear says that he fears tornadoes have killed 70 people in the state and the death toll may exceed 100 after tornadoes touch down in the state, particularly in western Kentucky.

The governor first made the announcement in an early Saturday morning briefing. He said a tornado was on the ground for about 200 miles in Kentucky and that it went through four states. He also said a collapse at a candle factory in Mayfield has resulted in "mass casualties." As of 4:45 a.m., more than 56,000 Kentucky customers are without power.

Campbellsville Mayor Diane Ford-Benningfield tells LEX 18's Nancy Cox recovery efforts are underway in the city. Many power lines are down and there's so much debris that it's dangerous to be outside at the moment.

Several people are trapped in their homes and many homes are flattened in the city. Several are presumed dead. Shepherdsville is sending 12 firefighters to help try to rescue people.

Boyle County Emergency Management Director Mike Wilder says there is major damage at the airport in Danville. The hangar and several small airplanes were destroyed. The county is also dealing with downed power lines, downed trees, and power outages.

Gov. Beshear declared a state of emergency and the National Guard has been activated. 181 guardsmen are being deployed and will be arriving in communities on Saturday morning. The governor also requested an immediate federal emergency declaration.

"This has been one of the toughest nights in Kentucky history and some areas have been hit in ways that are hard to put into words," said Gov. Beshear.

Kentucky Division of Emergency Management Director Michael Dossett said that this weekend's storms could surpass the 1974 tornado outbreak as one of the deadliest in Kentucky's history.

"Our hearts go out to the families that are in peril and all of the Kentuckians who have lost their lives," said Dossett.

Gov. Beshear said they will go to the western part of the state later Saturday "as soon as it is safe to do so."

The Graves County Emergency Management Office told WPSD that Mayfield High School is opening up a shelter for people affected by the storm. Residents who can safely walk there are also being told they can go to Fire Station 1 on East Broadway Street.