Deadly tornadoes slam through six states

By Fernando Alfonso III, Adrienne Vogt, Nadeem Muaddi, Nectar Gan and Steve George, CNN

Updated 1:39 a.m. ET, December 12, 2021
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8:30 a.m. ET, December 11, 2021

At least 50 people likely dead in Kentucky, governor says

From CNN's Andy Rose

Severe damage is seen to downtown buildings in Mayfield, Kentucky, on December 10.
Severe damage is seen to downtown buildings in Mayfield, Kentucky, on December 10. (WPSD)

At least 50 people are likely dead after multiple tornadoes barreled through southwestern Kentucky late Friday, according to Gov. Andy Beshear. 

"We believe our death toll from this event will exceed 50 Kentuckians, probably end up closer to 70 to 100 lost lives," Beshear said at a briefing Saturday morning, calling the storms that hit the state "the most severe tornado event in Kentucky's history."

Preliminary investigations indicate four tornadoes may have hit the state, including one that potentially stayed on the ground for more than 200 miles, Beshear said. Damage has been reported in at least 15 counties stretching across western Kentucky. 

The worst destruction was in Graves County, he told CNN affiliate WLKY, particularly the town of Mayfield. "It hit Mayfield as hard as just about any town ... has ever been hit."

The most severe damage appeared to be at a candle factory that was destroyed in the town of about 10,000 residents in southwestern Kentucky.

“There were about 110 people in it at the time that the tornado hit it. We believe we'll lose at least dozens of those individuals,” Beshear said.