At least 50 people have been killed in a series of devastating tornadoes across the United States, the governor of Kentucky has said.
The tornado struck Kentucky, Arkansas, Tennessee, Missouri and Illinois on Friday night and early Saturday morning, according to Reuters.
The death toll could be “higher,” Kentucky Governor Andy Bessier told local television station WLKY.
“The news is heartbreaking,” he was quoted as saying by the Washington Post.
A spokesman for the state’s emergency management department said rescue officials could not confirm the death toll until Saturday morning.
The New York Times reported that extensive damage had been done to Mayfield, west of Kentucky. They said there were about 110 people in a candle factory when the tornado hit the area.
“I think we’ve lost at least a dozen people,” Bessier was quoted as saying by the Times.
Dean Flanner, a spokesman for the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, said in a statement to the Washington Post that at least three people had been killed in the storm.
At least one person was killed and five others were injured when a tornado shattered the roof of a nursing home in the northern state of Monet, the Post reported, citing local officials in Arkansas.
Authorities in Illinois say the roof of a warehouse belonging to e-commerce giant Amazon partially collapsed Friday night as a tornado and tornado swept over Edwardsville, near the city of St. Louis, leaving several people trapped inside.
Governor Bessier has declared a state of emergency in Kentucky. He described the damage as “extremely devastating” and said in a statement that “after a long time we have seen such devastation.”
A freight train derailed west of Kentucky during the storm, but no casualties were reported, the Times reported.
Bill Bunting, chief of operations at the U.S. National Weather Service’s Storm Forecasting Center, said at least five areas in at least five states were affected by the tornado.