Kentucky tornado death toll likely to exceed 50, governor warns

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear braced the commonwealth’s residents for some somber news overnight as emergency responders continued work following tornado destruction.

Beshear said it’s likely that western Kentucky’s death toll may exceed 50 people.

The governor shared the disturbing estimate during a phone interview with WLKY-TV of Louisville.

Beshear said a single tornado tore across the state in a sustained way for more than 200 miles.

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“It hit Mayfield as hard as just about any town,” the governor said.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear speaks to reporters at the Statehouse in Frankfort, Ky., Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020. (Associated Press)

Other nearby towns were also hit, he said.

“We know that we’re likely to have more than 50 deaths, if not significantly north of that, from this event,” Beshear told the station.

“We know that we’re likely to have more than 50 deaths, if not significantly north of that, from this event.”

— Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear

He advised Kentucky residents to stay as safe as they can and warned them to stay off the roads as emergency crews continued their response.

He declared a state of emergency and deployed the National Guard, he said. 

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Police departments and other agencies were using heavy equipment to clear fallen trees and other debris, he said.

Beshear warned that severe storms were still in the area and more damage could happen during the morning hours.

Earlier Saturday morning came reports that hundreds of customers were without electricity in Jefferson County, Kentucky, with an estimated 20,000 or more losing service statewide, the Louisville Courier-Journal reported.

Prior to Beshear’s phone interview on television, the Kentucky State Police warned that “Loss of life is expected,” in a social media post around 1 a.m. Saturday.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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