After devastating tornadoes, crews look for missing persons

MAYFIELD (Ky.) -- After a tornado roared through the middle of the U.S.A, rescuers combed through the wreckage, leaving behind dozens of dead and despairing communities.

Esat Zorkun
Esat Zorkun
12 December 2021 Sunday 10:50
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After devastating tornadoes, crews look for missing persons

The track was carved by a twister, which could be the longest ever recorded. A stormfront tore apart a candle factory and a nursing home, and flattened an Amazon distribution centre.

"I pray for another rescue. "I pray that there will another one or two," Kentucky Governor. Andy Beshear spoke as crews searched through the rubble of Mayfield's candle factory, where 110 people had been working overnight when the storm struck. 40 of them were saved.

"We had to crawl over casualties at times to reach live victims," stated Jeremy Creason (the city's fire chief) and EMS director.

Only 22 people were killed in Kentucky, 11 of them in Bowling Green. Beshear stated that 70 people may have died when the twister struck more than 200 miles (320 km) from his state. He also said that there could be more deaths in 10 other counties.


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Six people died in Illinois where an Amazon facility was attacked; four in Tennessee; two each in Arkansas and Arkansas; and two in Missouri.

Victor Gensini, an extreme weather researcher at Northern Illinois University, said that if early reports are true, the twister could be regarded as one of America's longest-running tornadoes.

In March 1925, the longest tornado ever recorded was tracked for approximately 220 miles (355 km) through Missouri and Illinois. Gensini claimed that the twister may have traveled nearly 250 miles (400 km). He said that the storm was even more impressive because it occurred in December, when tornadoes are less common due to colder weather.

Mayfield is a small city in western Kentucky that has about 10,000 inhabitants. The ground was covered in debris from burned buildings and shredded trees. Streets were littered with twisted metal sheeting, downed electricity lines, and vehicles that had been damaged. The buildings that remained were destroyed by the wind.

Janine Denise Williams, a mother of four aged 50 years, was among those who were missing from the candle factory. Her family kept watch at the scene Saturday.

Darryl Williams, her brother, stated that it was Christmas and that she worked at a place that makes candles for gifts. To give up the gift that is life in order to make a present. We haven’t heard anything and I’m not assuming anything. However, I expect the worst.

He claimed Johnson Williams called her husband over night to report that the weather was becoming severe. That was the last time she heard from anyone.

Kyanna Parsons Perez, an employee of the factory, was stuck under 5 feet (about 1.5m) of debris for about two hours before rescuers were able to free her.

She spoke out about it in an interview with "Today" on NBC. "I didn't think I would make it."

The building's lights flickered just before the tornado hit. Her ears began popping, and she felt a gust in the wind. Then, it was boom. She heard others praying and people screaming.

Sarah Burgess, Kentucky State Trooper, said that rescue crews used heavy equipment to move rubble from the candle factory. Coroners were called and bodies were found. She didn't know how many.

Creason stated that rescue efforts were difficult because Mayfield's main fire station, as well as the emergency services hub, were also affected by the tornado.

Vernon Evans stated that he ran to help firefighters rescue residents from a Mayfield nursing home wall that had collapsed. One resident was found dead in the water.

He said, "All I could think was to sit there and keep their heads up." "I have never seen anything like this."

Full Coverage: Tornadoes

President Joe Biden approved Saturday's emergency declaration for Kentucky and promised to support affected states.

Biden stated, "I promise you that whatever is required -- whatever it is needed -- The federal government will find a way for it to be provided."

Six people died in the collapsed Amazon warehouse in Edwardsville in Illinois. Another injured worker was airlifted to a hospital by fire chief James Whiteford.

Whiteford stated that investigators searched the rubble for additional victims throughout the day and 45 people were found safe. Because workers were undergoing a shift change, it was unclear whether any were still missing. The tornado struck at 8:30 p.m. on Friday.

Amazon spokesperson Richard Rocha stated in writing that "This is a terrible tragedy for our Amazon family"

The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, who has been trying to organize workers in an Amazon facility, in Alabama, has criticised Amazon for keeping the Illinois site open during a severe weather event.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson's office stated that at least two people were killed in storms. Initial assessments suggest that hundreds of buildings and homes were destroyed by the storms.

Workers at the National Weather Service office in Weldon Springs, Missouri had to flee when a tornado passed close to their office. The tornado was about 30 miles (48 km) west of St. Louis.

"This was an amazing storm that lasted for a long period and covered a lot territory," stated Larry Vannozzi (meteorologist in charge of the National Weather Service office that covers the Nashville area).

He said that meteorologists aren't able to determine whether the storm produced one tornado or several tornadoes.

According to Craighead County Judge Marvin Day, a tornado in Arkansas struck a Monette nursing home, killing one person and trapping 20 others inside the building as it collapsed.

Another person was killed when the storm ravaged a Dollar General store near Leachville, Governor. Asa Hutchinson stated.

After touring the wreckage, Hutchinson stated that "probably the most remarkable thing" was the fact that there isn't a greater loss in life. It is catastrophic. It's a total destruction."

According to the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, four storm-related deaths have been confirmed in northwestern Tennessee.

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee said, "This is about what I consider the most sad thing that I have ever seen." After touring Dresden, Bill Lee stated that the town's downtown corridor was being torn down. "The entire town, the entire town."


An earlier version of this article misspelled the last name the weather researcher. It's Gensini and not Genzini.


Jim Salter in O'Fallon, Missouri, Seth Borenstein, Washington, D.C., Travis Loller, Nashville, Tennessee, Kimberlee Kruesi, Dresden, Tennessee, John Raby, Charleston, West Virginia, and Jeff McMurray, Chicago, contributed to this report.



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