By JEFF ROBERSON, ROBERT JABLON and JIM SALTER-Associated Press
EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. (AP) — Tornadoes and severe weather caused catastrophic damage across multiple states late Friday, killing at least six people overnight as a storm system tore through a candle factory in Kentucky, an Amazon facility in Illinois and a nursing home in Arkansas. The Kentucky governor said he feared dozens more could be dead.
Gov. Andy Beshear said about 110 people were in the factory in Mayfield, Kentucky, when the tornado hit.
“We believe our death toll from this event will exceed 50 Kentuckians and probably end up 70 to 100,” he said at a news conference Saturday. “It’s very hard, really tough, and we’re praying for each and every one of those families.”
Kyana Parsons-Perez, a factory employee, was trapped under five feet (about 1.5 meters) 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.”
Just before the tornado struck, the building’s lights flickered. She felt a gust of wind, her ears started “popping” and then, “Boom. Everything came down on us.” People started screaming, and she heard Hispanic workers praying in Spanish.
Among those who helped rescue the trapped workers were inmates from the nearby Graves County Jail, she said.
“They could have used that moment to try to run away or anything, but they did not. They were there, helping us,” she said.