Death toll expected to rise above 50 after severe weather rips through America’s heartland
Tornadoes and severe storms swept across several states Friday night, leaving in their wake multiple deaths, numerous injuries and severe structural damage, according to reports.
Affected states included Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee and Kentucky, where the governor said it’s likely that more than 50 people are dead.
Major incidents included heavy damage to an Amazon warehouse in Edwardsville, Illinois, where two people are confirmed dead and dozens of workers were reportedly trapped inside the building, and the destruction of a nursing home in Arkansas, where at least two people were killed and five were hurt, according to reports.
The Amazon collapse – just across the Mississippi River from St. Louis – was being called a “mass casualty incident” by local emergency responders. At least 30 people were bused away from the scene to be reunited with family, officials said.
Dozens trapped inside an Amazon fulfillment center in Edwardsville, Ill. https://t.co/iSpi8K2VkQ pic.twitter.com/B9I7AKJnRB
— FOX2now (@FOX2now) December 11, 2021
As many as 50 to 100 employees were believed to be inside the building, FOX 2 of St. Louis reported.
Police received word of the collapse around 8:30 p.m., police told FOX 2 early Saturday. Officials said the emergency response was expected to continue far into Saturday morning.
About 40 employees were transported to the Pontoon Beach Police Department, KMOV-TV of St. Louis reported.
UPDATE: We’ve learned about 40 Amazon employees were taken to the Pontoon Beach Police Dept. We spoke to a man who was at the warehouse – he described seeing people buried under debris and cars tossed into a retention pond. https://t.co/LhFhs3fKUW
— Susan El Khoury (@SusanElKhoury) December 11, 2021
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker expressed support for those affected in Edwardsville.
“My prayers are with the people of Edwardsville tonight,” Pritzker wrote, “and I’ve reached out to the mayor to provide any needed state resources.”
My prayers are with the people of Edwardsville tonight, and I’ve reached out to the mayor to provide any needed state resources.
Our @ILStatePolice and @ReadyIllinois are both coordinating closely with local officials and I will continue to monitor the situation.
— Governor JB Pritzker (@GovPritzker) December 11, 2021
In St. Charles County, Missouri, to the west of St. Louis, at least one person was killed and three injured when a tornado struck in the town of Defiance, according to FOX 2.
3 injured after severe storms in St. Charles County https://t.co/wZJOU06lT7
— FOX2now (@FOX2now) December 11, 2021
In Craighead County, Arkanas, emergency responders were dealing with a tragedy at the Monette Manor Nursing Home in Monette, FOX 16 of Little Rock reported.
At least 20 people were initially trapped inside the building after a suspected tornado struck, the report said. The damage left at least two people dead and five hurt, the report said.
Reports: 2 killed in Ark. nursing home during tornado https://t.co/Jk5nNYOwyH
— FOX16 News (@FOX16News) December 11, 2021
The nursing home’s roof was ripped off and other buildings in town also were damaged, according to FOX 16.
Survivors were being directed to a local church to reunite with loved ones, the station reported.
Another fatality was reported at a Dollar General store in Leachville, according to The Weather Channel.
JUST IN—officials confirm to our @weatherchannel team that a person has died at a Dollar General in Leachville, Arkansas after storms hit the building. #ARwx
— Tevin Wooten (@TevinWooten) December 11, 2021
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear warned the commonwealth’s residents early Saturday that the tornado death toll there may exceed 50 after a candle factory in Mayfield with around 110 people inside was flattened.
Beshear made the comments by phone with Louisville station WLKY-TV. He said a single tornado ripped across the state for about 200 miles.
Earlier, the governor declared a state of emergency after major tornado damage was reported in the western part of the state, according to Louisville FOX station WDRB-TV.
“Last night Western Kentucky experienced some of the worst tornado damage we’ve seen, and we are urging everyone to please stay safe as there are still active cells,” Beshear wrote on Twitter around 2 a.m.
Last night Western Kentucky experienced some of the worst tornado damage we’ve seen, and we are urging everyone to please stay safe as there are still active cells. 1/3 pic.twitter.com/jkv1sqf3za
— Governor Andy Beshear (@GovAndyBeshear) December 11, 2021
“Loss of life is expected,” in western Kentucky, the Kentucky State Police wrote on Twitter.
KSP Post 1 Mayfield is responding to a severe tornado event that spreads across multiple counties in Western Ky. Significant damage is reported. While no fatalities have been confirmed at this time, loss of life is expected. Multiple agencies are responding. Updates to follow.
— KY State Police (@kystatepolice) December 11, 2021
Southwest Kentucky saw “twin tornadoes” strike around 2:20 a.m. near Bowling Green, WDRB reported.
“People that weren’t even official first responders been up all night trying to help their friends and neighbors and family,” Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., told “Fox & Friends Weekend.” “Just a devastating thing to go through the community and just something that you hope you never have to witness.”
In Madisonville, Kentucky, a freight-train derailment was reported shortly after midnight, related to severe weather. No injuries were immediately reported, a spokeswoman for rail company CSX Corp. told Fox News.
At least two people were confirmed dead in Obion County, Tennessee, after dangerous storms tore through the area, FOX 17 of Nashville reported. No details were immediately available on how the deaths occurred.