The powerful tornadoes that swept through Kentucky towns late Friday and early Saturdays has accounted for a death toll that is likely to be more than 100, says the governor.
Andy Beshear the governor, said this was the most devastating tornado event in the state’s history, with at least 80 confirmed deaths.
“Nothing that was standing in the direct line of [one] tornado is still standing,” he said.
Fourteen deaths have been reported in four other states.
President Joe Biden has declared a major federal disaster in Kentucky and ordered federal aid to be made available to the hardest-hit areas.
National Guard were going door to door and removing debris while rescue workers scoured debris for survivors while teams distributed water and generators to residents.
“We’re still hoping as we move forward for some miracles to find more people,” the governor said during a visit to the town of Mayfield, one of the hardest hit.
However, no-one has been found alive since Saturday morning.
Beshear said a tornado had wrecked places all along its 227-mile (365km) path. Thousands of people had their homes destroyed though the exact number was still not clear.
The longest a tornado to have previously travelled along the ground in the US was a 219-mile storm in Missouri in March 1925 that claimed 695 lives. Such major events outside of the spring and summer months are extremely rare.
In Mayfield, the fire station and the city hall were flattened. “I don’t think there’s a pane of glass in any vehicle or property that the city owns that isn’t shattered,” Mayor Kathy Stewart said.
Eight deaths were confirmed at a candle factory that was hit when 110 employees were believed to be inside, a spokesperson for the company told Reuters news agency. Eight other people were still missing.
The numbers are far lower than previously feared, meaning that the governor’s death toll estimate could be revised down.