Desperate excavations continued on Sunday to find possible survivors at the site of a candle factory in the heart of the United States, which has become a symbol of the devastation caused by tornadoes that have killed at least 94 people in their wake. This exceptional weather phenomenon crossed five states, leaving a trail of destruction for hundreds of kilometers, but it was in Mayfield, Kentucky, that it was the worst.
The Mayfield Consumer Products candle factory is nothing more than a tangle of twisted joints and sheet metal, stacked several meters high. Equipped with cranes, bulldozers, and other mechanical devices, rescuers progressed slowly through the rubble on Sunday, continuing to hope for a miracle.
Some 110 employees were working at the plant Friday night to meet the demand for the holiday season when the tornado destroyed everything. Several dozen people are still missing. It’s a very sad and serious operation right now,” said Michael Dossett, Kentucky relief coordinator, confirming that no survivors were removed from the rubble overnight from Saturday to Sunday.
It's A Vision Of A War Zone,” He Added, On CNN's Antenna.
Asked by NBC, the mayor of Mayfield, Kathy O'Nan, seemed to temper the possibility of a miracle: “There is always hope. But, at the moment, what we hope for is a warm shelter for our survivors ”.
The Balance Sheet Will Grow Heavier
The candle factory, a family business, has created an emergency fund to help families. Elsewhere in Kentucky, but also in the states of Missouri, Illinois, Tennessee, and Arkansas, there were the same scenes of flattened constructions, gutted buildings, twisted metal infrastructure, overturned vehicles, torn trees, and bricks strewn in the streets.
These states have been crossed by “one of the worst series of tornadoes” in the history of the country, lamented US President Joe Biden, calling their devastation “unimaginable tragedy”.
Federal disaster response agencies have started to be deployed there, the head of state said, promising that federal services would do “whatever they can to help.”
Messages of sympathy poured in from abroad. Russian President Vladimir Poutine thus presented his “sincere condolences” on Sunday, the Pope addressing his prayers to the inhabitants of Kentucky from St. Peter's Square.
The death toll rose on Sunday: at least 80 people died in Kentucky alone, Governor Andy Beshear announced.
This Number Will Exceed A Hundred,” He Added.
Tornadoes are a violent meteorological phenomenon that particularly affects the vast American plains. On amateur videos taken Friday evening, we see these huge black columns sweeping the ground, illuminated by intermittent lightning.
It is also a part of the heritage which has been erased.
In Mayfield, the old churches were destroyed and the courthouse badly damaged. It's as if a bomb had exploded in our neighborhood,” Alex Goodman, a resident of this city of 10,000 souls, told AFP after a night in the dark and in anguish.
Kentucky was notably swept over 200 miles (320 kilometers) by one of the longest tornadoes on record in the United States, according to its governor. The longest that has been tracked on the ground, over 219 miles, occurred in 1925 in Missouri, killing 695 people.
“We got an alert at 9:30 is, we were told the tornado was coming. It came and went like that, suddenly ”told AFP David Norseworthy, 69, in front of the destroyed porch of his house in Mayfield. »We have never seen anything like it in the area. Where it hits, it demolishes everything ”.
About Thirty Of These Storms Swept Across The Country On Friday Evening.
Another mourning site, an Amazon warehouse, whose roof collapsed in Edwardsville, Illinois, killing at least six people. Rescuers continued their search there on Sunday.
We are heartbroken by the loss of our colleagues there, and our hearts and prayers are with their families and loved ones,” Amazon boss Jeff Bezos said on Twitter. Tennessee has recorded four deaths, two people have died in Arkansas, while at least two other deaths are to be deplored in Missouri.
President Biden stressed that the weather phenomena were “more intense” with global warming, without however establishing a direct causal link between climate change and the disaster that has grieved the country.