Authorities said they had little hope of finding survivors after the tornadoes tore through the US Midwest and South on Friday night, killing score of people in at least five states
A three-year-old boy is among more than a hundred people to have died after the deadliest storm in Kentucky’s history devastated the region.
Rescuers are continuing to scour the wreckage in a hunt for survivors after a series of deadly tornadoes tore through the area.
Officials fear more than 100 people are dead after the storm obliterated numerous homes and businesses.
Authorities said they had little hope of finding survivors after the tornadoes tore through the US Midwest and South on Friday night, killing score of people in at least five states.
Six workers were killed at an Amazon.com warehouse in Illinois and a nursing home in Arkansas was also struck.
Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear said: “To the people of America, there is no lens big enough to show you the extent of the damage.”
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He confirmed that at least 80 people in his state had died and the toll was eventually going to pass more than 100.
“We’re still hoping as we move forward for some miracles,” he added.
Harrowing images revealed the extent of the destruction with the small town of Mayfield hit the hardest.
Mayfield resident Jamel Alubahr, 25, said his 3-year-old nephew died and his sister was in the hospital with a skull fracture after being stuck under the rubble of their home.
“It all happened in the snap of a finger,” he said.
Kentucky District Judge Brian Crick, 43, a married father of three was also said to be among the victims.
Another Mayfield local Angela Wheeler told WLWT-TV how she and her husband escaped through a window as their home came off its foundation, before finding neighbours screaming for help after their three-year-old boy was killed.
Steve Wright, 61, said after the storm had passed, he took a torch and started walking around town looking for people who might be trapped.
He ended up helping a father pull his dead 3-year-old from the rubble.
“It was bad. I helped dig out a dead baby, right up here,” he said gesturing to debris that used to be a two-story house.
“I prayed for both of them, that was all I could do.”
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One resident Laurie Lopez, 53, received a tornado alert on her phone about 20 minutes before her entire house started shaking.
She took cover in a hallway with her 19-year-old daughter and their two Huskies. Sirens near downtown also went off, she said.
“Soon the (window) glass started just burst in, we could hear it flying. I have it like all over my bedroom,” she said.
The tornado “sounded like a freight train going through a brick house.”
The front of their two-story home appeared totally collapsed and part of the roof had fallen onto the grass. Somewhere under the mound of debris was Lopez’s car.
Elsewhere dramatic images showed two cars had separated entirely from a train near Highway 41, with much of the vehicle toppled on its side.
Jesse Johnson, who was at the centre of the storm in Earlington, told WFIE-TV : “They say it sounds like a train. It’s a lot worse than a train.”
And a story emerged on Facebook of a family photo being swept more than 130 miles away before being found intact and reunited with its owner.
Officials said the tornadoes were the most destructive in the state’s history and knocked out power to between 36,000 and 50,000 homes.
More than 300 members of the National Guard were going door to door and removing debris. Teams were working to distribute water and generators.
“The very first thing that we have to do is grieve together and we’re going to do that before we rebuild together,” the state governor said.
Meanwhile, in Edwardsville, Illinois, six Amazon workers were killed after the plant buckled under the force of the tornado.
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President Joe Biden said he would ask the Environmental Protection Agency to examine what role climate change may have played in fuelling the storms.
Deanne Criswell, administrator of the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency, called the magnitude of the tornadoes “historic.”
The agency was opening shelters and sending teams and supplies, including 30,000 meals and 45,000 litres of water.
According to National Weather Service records the previous record for deaths during a similar storm was set in 1890 when 76 people were killed in Louisville area.