‘Dozens’ feared dead after tornado hits candle factory in Mayfield, KY

December 11, 2021
'Dozens' feared dead after tornado hits candle factory in Mayfield, KY


Search and rescue teams from Indiana were dispatched to a candle factory in Mayfield, Kentucky on Saturday to help with recovery efforts after a deadly tornado hit the area. 

Gov. Andy Beshear about 110 people were in the factory when the tornado struck about midnight in Mayfield, a community of about 10,000 people located in the southwest corner of Kentucky.

Kentucky State Police Trooper Sara Burgess said coroners were called to scene and bodies were recovered but an exact death toll has not been confirmed.

In a press conference on Saturday, Beshear said he expected 70 to 100 residents to have died following the storms. 

“I’m now certain that number is north of 70,” he said. “It may in fact end up exceeding 100 before the day is done.” 

►Live updates:Kentucky Gov. estimates at least 70 dead after tornadoes, severe weather hit multiple states overnight

►’It’s devastating’:See the damage of the tornado that tore through Kentucky and other states

Drone footage shot Saturday morning offered a glimpse of the destruction in Mayfield’s downtown, with extensive damage to brick buildings and lots filled with debris and rubble.

Kyana Parsons-Perez, an employee at the candle factory, said she was trapped under 5 feet of debris for at least two hours until rescuers managed to free her.

In an interview with “TODAY,” she said it was the “absolutely the most terrifying” event she had ever experienced. “I did not think I was going to make it at all.”

The storms arrived Friday overnight and Saturday and swept through Bowling Green, Kentucky, near the Tennessee border, tearing off roofs of homes and flinging debris into roadways.The governor declared a state of emergency and said the state is deployed 181 National Guard troops who arrived to affected areas Saturday morning.

In Mayfield, Beshear fought back tears as he described for reporters the devastation he had witnessed late Saturday morning at the candle factory. 

“We’re gonna lose a lot of lives at that facility,” Beshear said. “And I pray that there will be another rescue, and pray they’ll there’ll be another one or two. But it’s a very dire situation at this point.”

Beshear noted that while 110 workers were believed to be a the factory when the tornado hit, there have only been 40 rescues of workers by first responders.

“I think the largest loss of life in this tornado event is and will be there, and it may end up being the largest loss of life in any tornado event in a single location in the state’s history,” Beshear said.

“It’s heavy machinery… it’s the building that’s flattened. It’s cars from the parking lot that is on top of it. It’s huge metal drums, even ones with corrosive chemicals that were inside. It’s… pretty awful to witness.”

Contributing: The Courier Journal, The Associated Press.

Follow Gabriela Miranda on Twitter: @itsgabbymiranda


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