Among the most significant damage: Tornadoes or high winds brought down an occupied candle factory in Kentucky, an Amazon warehouse in western Illinois, and a retirement home in Arkansas, killing people at every site and leaving responders scrambling to save others.
The extent of the destruction won’t be fully known for hours, but a video emerging from just these three states – of flattened buildings, overturned vehicles and workers scouring rubble for those trapped – reports stunning damage in some areas. .
“This will be one of the largest and most widespread disasters Kentucky has ever faced,” said Kentucky Emergency Management Director Michael Dossett, adding that it was “one of the most gloomy history of the state “.
Tornadoes have also been reported in parts of Missouri, Tennessee and Mississippi.
One of the most devastated sites is the town of Mayfield in southwest Kentucky where a tornado hit a candle factory Friday night as people were working. About 110 people were inside, Beshear said.
“We think we are going to lose at least dozens of these people,” the governor said.
Video from Mayfield showed what was left of the factory: a massive field of debris, much of twisted metal, several feet tall, with rescuers using hands and machines to dig.
Among the survivors was Kyanna Parsons-Perez, who said workers were pushed into a safety zone before the storm hit. While the audience was taken, she saw “a little wind dust”.
âMy ears started to crack. And it was like the building, we all rocked back and forth and then boom – everything fell on us,â Kyanna Parsons-Perez told CNN’s Boris Sanchez.
Pinned down by debris along with others, she used her phone to broadcast on Facebook Live and called 911, her mother and a colleague’s relative. She knew the rescuers were only there when she could feel the pressure from above – people walking over the debris.
“I was screaming like, ‘Sir, can you please get this so that I can move my leg? He said, ‘Ma’am, there’s about five feet of debris on you.’ “
Rescuers eventually removed her and others, she said.
Ivy Williams was at the scene on Saturday, searching for his wife, over 30, who he said was at the factory.
âI hope she’s in a safe place,â Williams said, through tears. “Please call me … I’m looking for you, baby.”
First responders lifted “many, many” people from the rubble, some alive and others apparently dead, storm chaser Michael Gordon told CNN on Saturday morning from the scene.
âIt’s a little hard to talk about.â¦ They’re digging this rubble by hand right now,â Gordon said.
People were working there because the plant “operates 24/7” in part to meet the demand for Christmas candles, US Representative James Comer, who represents the region, told CNN.
âIt changed the landscapeâ¦ here in Mayfield,â said Kentucky State Police Lt. Dean Patterson. “We see (destruction) that none of us have ever seen before.”
In a Twitter post, President Joe Biden called the loss of a loved one in a storm like the ones that swept parts of the United States early on Saturday as “unimaginable tragedy.”
Deaths in Illinois and Arkansas, officials say
Deaths have also been reported in Illinois and Arkansas.
In the collapsed Amazon warehouse in the city of Edwardsville, Ill. Outside of St. Louis, at least two people were killed and rescue attempts were underway on Saturday, the chief said Mike Fillback Police Officer.
Rescues were proceeding slowly as the suspended debris posed a danger to responders, Fillback said.
Dozens of people were able to escape without serious injury, Fillback said.
âIt’s devastating to see the extent of the damage there and to know there were people inside when this happened,â Fillback told KMOV on Saturday morning. Police did not know how many people were in the building at the time of the collapse, Fillback said, or how many people were still trapped inside.
In the northeast Arkansas town of Monette, at least one person died after a tornado damaged a nursing home on Friday, trapping others inside before being rescued. At least 20 people were also injured at the facility, Mayor Bob Blankenship told CNN.
Another person was killed in nearby Leachville, as a woman was “in a Dollar General store when the storm hit and she couldn’t get out,” the County Sheriff told CNN. Mississippi, Dale Cook.
Also in Arkansas, Interstate 555 near the town of Trumann has been closed due to the vehicle rollover, said LaTresha Woodruff, an Arkansas emergency management spokesperson. State officials were told town firefighters, EMS facilities and a nursing home were damaged, Woodruff said.
Those parts of Arkansas – as well as Mayfield, Kentucky – lie on a path of more than 200 miles, including slices of Missouri and Tennessee, which may have been produced by a long track tornado, meteorologists said. from CNN.
If it were a single tornado, this 200 mile path would be the longest since 1925.
About 70 miles northeast of Mayfield, Lori Wooten took refuge in her daughter’s basement in the small community of Dawson Springs in Kentucky as the storm passed Friday night. She emerged to see a 2-foot piece of wood that had pierced a master bedroom and debris strewn outside.
“Gutters are hanging from herâ¦ roof. The trampoline – there is so much here, it’s hard to know what is theirs and what belongs to others,” said Wooten, an aunt of the political analyst. CNN Scott Jennings, at CNN Saturday.
A train derailed near Madisonville, Ky., Early Saturday morning as the weather moved in the area, according to a CSX spokesperson. No injuries were reported to the crew.
In the community of Samburg in northwest Tennessee, several structures were damaged, officials said. The city “is pretty well flattened,” Obion County Sheriff’s Office dispatcher Judy Faulkner told CNN.
In addition to several tornadoes, the storms produced dozens of reports of wind and hail early Saturday.
Triggering weather alerts on Friday from Arkansas to Indiana, the severity of the storms is expected to diminish as Saturday continues, with the greatest threat during the early hours of the morning.
Much of the eastern United States will be affected by rain until Saturday night. Strong to severe isolated thunderstorms can occur from the Ohio and Tennessee valleys to the northern Gulf states, according to the Storm Prediction Center. Gusts of wind, hail and an isolated tornado are still possible.
Correction: A previous version of this story misspelled the name of Kentucky Emergency Management Director Michael Dossett.
CNN’s Claudia Dominguez, Nadia Romero, Derek Van Dam, Taylor Ward, Joe Sutton, Keith Allen, Dave Hennen, Haley Brink, Dave Alsup, and Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.