Entire towns wiped out by tornado, says Kentucky governor Andy Beshear

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Jeff Bezos criticised for failing to mention death of Amazon workers in an Instagram post

Entire towns wiped out by tornado, says Kentucky governor Andy Beshear

Entire towns have been wiped out by the tornado which ripped through a swathe of the US which is feared to have claimed at least 100 lives, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear said on Sunday.

As the full extent of the devastation emerged, Amazon boss Jeff Bezos came under fire for failing to mention the death of at least six workers at a company plant in Edwardsville, Illinois in an Instagram post hailing his latest group of space tourists.

The tornado tore through several states including Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee on Friday night.

It was Kentucky, however, which appears to have been worst hit with at least 80 people having died, including at least one child. It is feared the final figure could be considerably higher.

“I’ve got towns that are gone,” Mr Beshear said on CNN’s “State of the Union” program. “My dad’s home town, Paxton, isn’t standing. It is hard to describe.”Advertisement

“You think you can go door to door to check on people and see if they’re OK – there are no doors.”

“The question is, is somebody in the rubble of thousands upon thousands of structures?” he said. “It is devastating.”

A house sits destroyed by a tornado in Campbellsville, Kentucky
At least 100 killed by US tornado CREDIT: Michael Clubb/AP

On Face the Nation, Mr Beshear disclosed he had lost relatives in the tornado.

“This tornado didn’t discriminate anybody in its path. It is like nothing we’ve ever seen before.”

Mr Beshear added 300 members of the National Guard were going “rubble to rubble” searching for survivors.

But he warned that the state’s mortuaries were not big enough to cope with the number of dead.

Joe Biden, who declared a state of emergency in Kentucky, said he would visit the scene when his presence would not impede rescue efforts.

The US president promised the federal government would offer whatever help was needed.

“This is likely to be one of the largest tornado outbreaks in our history,” Mr Biden said.

Such was the force of the tornado that a 1942 family photo was blown more than 150 miles from the debris in Kentucky onto a car windscreen in New Albany, Indiana.

Katie Posten, who found the black and white picture, posted it on Facebook where it was identified by Cole Swatzell from Dawson Springs, Kentucky.

Details of the devastation were still emerging on Sunday.

Victims included people working the night shift at a candle factory in Mayfield, Kentucky which was reduced to rubble.

A prison officer was among those who died.

The officer was supervising seven inmates from a local jail who were at the factory on a pre-release programme.  The prisoners reportedly helped rescue other workers from the rubble after the building collapsed.

Kyanna Parsons-Perez, a worker at the factory, told NBC News: “Some of those prisoners were working their tails off to get us out. They could have used that moment to try to run away or anything — they did not. They were there, they were helping us.”

Elsewhere four people are known to have died in Tennessee. There was one confirmed fatality in Arkansas and another in Missouri.

Kentucky governor Andy Beshear
Entire towns wiped out by tornado says Kentucky governor, Andy Beshear CREDIT: Timothy D. Easley/AP

The workers at the Amazon warehouse in Edwardsville, Illinois died when the building took a direct hit from the tornado, bringing down two 40-feet walls.

It struck as the shift was changing and it is feared the final death toll could be higher.

Mr Bezos, who faced criticism for not mentioning the tragedy in a social media post, later posted on Twitter describing the news as tragic.

“We’re heartbroken over the loss of our teammates there, and our thoughts and prayers are with their families and loved ones.

“All of Edwardsville should know that the Amazon team is committed to supporting them and will be by their side through this crisis.”

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