extreme weather

Many Feared Dead After Tornadoes Tear Through Central U.S.

First responders surround a damaged Amazon distribution center in Edwardsville, Illinois, after it was struck by a tornado on Friday night. Photo: Michael Thomas/Getty Images

At least dozens of people are feared dead after more than 30 tornadoes struck at least six states overnight Friday amid an extraordinary extreme-weather system that sped across a span of hundreds of miles. As many as 100 people may have been killed in Kentucky where an occupied candle factory collapsed, and other deaths have been reported at an Amazon warehouse in Illinois and a nursing home in Arkansas. Details are still unfolding; below is what we know so far.

Where the tornadoes hit

More than 30 tornadoes were reported overnight Friday across at least six states, including Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, Tennessee, and Mississippi. Meteorologists report that that a single tornado may have traveled more than 200 miles, starting in Arkansas and continuing through Kentucky.

As many as 100 feared dead in Kentucky

Four tornadoes touched down in the state, and Kentucky governor Andy Beshear estimated early Saturday that between 70 to 100 people were killed across at least four counties. Dozens of people were likely killed at a candle factory in the town of Mayfield after the building’s roof collapsed, Beshear said, explaining that 110 people were working in the factory when the tornado struck the town.

“This has been one of the toughest nights in Kentucky history,” Beshear said. “And some areas have been hit in ways that are hard to put into words.” The governor declared a state of emergency on Friday night, and has activated the state’s National Guard, deploying 181 guardsmen to help with search, rescue, and recovery.

“When I got to this area, it was flashing lights in every direction. Trees down, roads impassable,” Michael Gordon, a storm chaser on the ground, told CNN. “It looked like a war zone.” This drone footage shot Saturday morning gives a sense of the destruction in downtown Mayfield:

Multiple deaths at an Amazon warehouse in southern Illinois

At least two people were killed when an Amazon distribution center partially collapsed in Edwardsville, Illinois, on Friday night amid the extreme weather, according to local police, who said they believed about 50 people were inside the building when the storm system tore through just after 8:30 p.m. Calling it a “devastating tragedy,” Amazon spokesperson Richard Rocha said the company offered its “thoughts, prayers, and deepest sympathies are with the victims, their loved ones, and everyone impacted.”

At least one person killed at Arkansas nursing home

At least one death has been confirmed after a reported tornado struck Monette, Arkansas, overnight, causing significant damage to the Monette Manor nursing home, where at least one person was killed and five people were seriously injured, according to the Arkansas Democrat Gazette. At least 20 people had been trapped inside the home, but all were accounted for by early Saturday.

Deadly Tornadoes Tear Through Central U.S.: Updates