Over 80 dead as tornadoes devastate 6 US states
Overnight, dozens of catastrophic tornadoes ripped through five US states, killing more than 80 people. Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, Mississippi, and Tennessee were hit by tornadoes. President Joe Biden described the storm as "one of the largest" in history. "It's a tragedy," Biden said in televised comments. "And we still don't know how many lives are lost and the full extent of the damage."
Why does it matter?
- At least 80 people have died in what has been described as the "most deadly tornado event" in US history.
- Over 30 tornadoes have been reported across the six states.
- The storms were the most intense in the Mayfield town of Kentucky.
- Climate change is causing storms to become more powerful and frequent, say scientists.
Kentuck Governor declares state of emergency
This has been one of the toughest nights in Kentucky’s history, with multiple counties impacted and a significant loss of life. I have declared a state of emergency and submitted a request to @POTUS for an immediate federal emergency declaration. https://t.co/KmMOl95t1N— Governor Andy Beshear (@GovAndyBeshear) December 11, 2021
Unlike anything I've seen: Kentucky Governor
"This event is the worst, most devastating, most deadly tornado event in Kentucky's history," said Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear. "The devastation is unlike anything I have seen in my life, and I have trouble putting it into words."
Kentucky's Mayfield 'ground zero'
Speaking to AFP, an official described Kentucky's Mayfield—a town of 10,000 people—as "ground zero." In Mayfield, entire city blocks were destroyed and historic homes were leveled. Tree trunks were also stripped of their branches. The roof of a candle factory collapsed, trapping 110 people inside, Beshear said. Forty people were saved, he said, adding that more survivors were unlikely.
Mayfield tornado 'longest'
The tornado that hit Mayfield rumbled along the soil for over 200 miles in Kentucky and 227 miles altogether. The previous record for the longest tornado track in the United States was a 219-mile storm in Missouri in 1925. There were roughly 30 tornadoes in the area. Parts of Kentucky and other states also suffered power outages amid the storms.
Amazon workers trapped inside Illinois warehouse
In other storm-hit states, at least 13 people were killed. Around 100 workers were trapped inside an Amazon warehouse in Illinois. Amazon boss Jeff Bezos said he was "heartbroken" over the deaths at the facility. Another tornado "pretty much destroyed" a nursing home in Monette, Arkansas, killing one. Overall, four people died in Arkansas and Tennessee each.
Climate change impact unclear: Biden
President Biden assured full support and said the impact of climate change is not yet clear. However, he said, "We all know everything is more intense when the climate is warming, everything."