More than seventy dead in Kentucky, where a city was at least partly razed, other victims counted from Tennessee to Illinois… Destructive tornadoes hit part of the United States on Friday, December 10.
While relief efforts were still at work on Saturday morning, US President Joe Biden spoke of a “Unimaginable tragedy” and ensured that the federal administration was working in concert with the governors of the affected states. “We work with the governors [des Etats] to make sure we have what is needed for the search for survivors ”, he added.
This morning, I was briefed on the devastating tornadoes across the central U.S. To lose a loved one in a storm lik… https://t.co/XwrntSfAX2
In total, at least 78 deaths have been recorded across five states. Three people have died in Tennessee, and two in Arkansas, according to officials and local media. In Illinois, two people died in an Amazon warehouse collapse; at least one death is to be deplored in Missouri.
But it is in Kentucky, in the center-east of the country, that the toll is heaviest after the passage of this devastating meteorological phenomenon which particularly affects the plains of the United States. “We were pretty sure we were going to lose over 50 Kentuckians. I’m now sure that number is over 70, and it could well be over 100 by the end of the day ”, the governor of that state, Andy Beshear, said at a press conference on Saturday. “Last night western Kentucky suffered some of the worst damage we’ve ever seen after tornadoes. We urge everyone to stay in a safe place ”, he said earlier in a post on Twitter.
Last night Western Kentucky experienced some of the worst tornado damage we’ve seen, and we are urging everyone to… https://t.co/xV217e4GK7
Several counties were devastated by the strong tornado which traveled more than 300 kilometers in this state. Mayfield, a town of 10,000 people, appears to have been at the epicenter of the disaster. Entire city blocks were razed to the ground, as if blown up by an explosion, according to first images sent at sunrise on Saturday. “The city has suffered the hardest blows. The devastation is massive ”, said Michael Dossett, a local relief official, interviewed on CNN. He mentioned a « ground zero », a phrase used to describe the ruins of the World Trade Center after the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York City.
The collapsed roof of a candle-making factory “Made countless victims” in the town of Mayfield, the governor explained. “Before midnight, I declared a state of emergency”, added Mr. Beshear, adding that search and rescue teams had been deployed in this chaos made worse by the power cuts.
Photos and videos of Mayfield, shared on social media, show gutted buildings, twisted metal, trees and bricks strewn across the streets. American channels also filmed the passage of the tornadoes: black columns sweeping the ground, illuminated by intermittent lightning. “The damage is indescribable. The landscape of Mayfield as we know it is turned upside down ”Kentucky Police Department Dean Patterson said. “We have never seen until today what we are witnessing”, added this official.
Workers trapped in Illinois warehouse
Further northwest, in Illinois, strong winds partially tore off the roof of a storm-ravaged Amazon warehouse. Amazon employees in Illinois, who worked nights to process orders before the Christmas holidays, were trapped in a warehouse ravaged by a storm the day before on Saturday. Police confirmed at least two people died in the warehouse, and the local emergency management agency spoke of “Many trapped people” in the building.
The emergency services worked until the early hours of Saturday to try to free these people from the installation, a third of which is nothing more than rubble. Images from the Edwardsville Amazon warehouse, shared by U.S. news channels and social media, show much of the facility’s roof torn off, one of the walls collapsed into the building and rubble strewn across the site .
Illinois Governor J. B. Pritzker said he addressed his “Prayers to the people of Edwardsville”. “We are deeply saddened by the news”Amazon spokesperson Kelly Nantel said, adding: “We continue to provide support to our employees and partners in the area. “
Three dead in Arkansas and Tennessee
In the state of Arkansas, one person was killed and twenty were trapped in a nursing home, according to media reports. But rescuers managed to evacuate the trapped people from the building whose structure was “Practically destroyed”Craighead County official Marvin Day told local news stations.
In Tennessee, at least two people were killed in incidents related to the storm, according to an emergency management official quoted by local media. Tornadoes also hit Missouri.
The passage of tornadoes is a weather phenomenon that affects the United States every year, but several scientists have warned that climate change is increasing the size and frequency of storms.
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In the United States, tornadoes kill dozens of people, an “unimaginable tragedy”, deplores Joe Biden