Barrage of tornadoes that tore through six US states killed at least 74 people in Kentucky, officials say revising the death toll, as another 109 people still remain unaccounted for.
Kentucky officials have voiced relief that dozens of workers at a candle factory appear to have survived tornadoes that killed at least 88 people and left a trail of devastation across six US states.
Governor Andy Beshear said on Monday that 74 deaths have been confirmed in the southeastern state and choked up as he told reporters the fatalities ranged in age from five months old to 86.
"Like the folks in western Kentucky, I'm not doing so well today and I'm not sure how many of us are," Beshear said.
The governor said 109 people in Kentucky remain unaccounted for and "it may be weeks before we have final counts on both deaths and levels of destruction."
"Undoubtedly there will be more (dead)," he added.
Candle factory workers accounted for
But the governor said fears of a devastating death toll in the collapse of the candle factory in the ravaged town of Mayfield were apparently unfounded.
Some 110 employees were working late on Friday at the Mayfield Consumer Products plant to meet the holiday rush when a twister ripped the building to shreds.
The factory owners reported eight dead and eight missing from the collapse and said "94 are alive and have been accounted for," Beshear said.
Fourteen deaths have been reported in four other states hit by the twisters –– Tennessee, Arkansas, Missouri, and Illinois. There was also damage, though no deaths, in Mississippi.
Six people were killed at an Amazon warehouse in the southern Illinois city of Edwardsville, where workers were on the night shift processing orders ahead of Christmas.
Hopes are fading of finding more survivors from a string of deadly tornadoes that struck several US states. Journalist Wendy Woolfolk has more from the worst-hit state, Kentucky pic.twitter.com/M1iTcKhjUf— TRT World Now (@TRTWorldNow) December 14, 2021
Biden to survey damage
Also on Monday, President Joe Biden said he will visit Kentucky on Wednesday and survey damage in Mayfield.
"It's just devastating," Biden told reporters, holding up photographs of the town.
"It's a town that has been wiped out. But it's not the only town."
Biden has declared a major disaster in Kentucky, allowing additional federal aid to be channeled into recovery efforts.
With an immense recovery effort looming, immediate concerns for residents' safety and well-being were front and centre, as cold weather began to bite in towns that resembled war zones.