A chilling video has emerged of the moment a woman who was caught up in a tornado while working at a candle factory in the western Kentucky city of Mayfield pleaded for help on Facebook live.
Scores of people remain missing at the factory in the American state of Kentucky that was hit by one of the most powerful tornadoes to have swept six states in the midwest.
Authorities have found 40 people alive but many more remain unaccounted for. At least 100 people are feared to be dead in Kentucky alone.
“I don’t know who’s watching … I’m at work at Mayfield,” Kyanna Parsons-Perez can be heard saying, with the sound of her panicked colleagues in the background.
“Y’all please send us some help. We are trapped. The wall is stuck on me.
“Nobody can get to us. Y’all. Pray for us. Try and get somebody to help us.”
Parsons-Perez told CNN she was in a storm shelter with other employees deep inside the building when she felt a “little gust of wind”, her ears started popping and then something hit her head.
“At some point the lights went out … and the ceiling collapsed on us,” she told MSNBC News.
Her legs then became pinned underneath a water fountain, and she became worried as she lost feeling in her toes.
“I was just so afraid. I’m like, they’re not gonna be able to get me out. I’m going down on my birthday … It was extremely scary.”
She was rescued from underneath 1.5 metres of rubble and had to climb out in order to escape.
Before and after pics of the destruction
The Mayfield Consumer Products Candle Factory, which was destroyed, features in a series of before-and-after satellite photographs which reveal the scale of the devastation in the US states of Kentucky and Arkansas after they were hit with a string of tornadoes.
At least 83 people were killed when an estimated 30 tornadoes tore through approximately six American states, with fears the death toll could rise to 100.
Mayfield was the “ground zero” of the storm and became the scene of mass devastation, according to officials.
The satellite images, taken by Maxar Technologies, show collapsed buildings, scorched earth and other end-of-the-world type scenes.
“It’s changed the landscape … here in Mayfield,” Kentucky State Police Lieutenant Dean Patterson said of the storm.
“We’re seeing (destruction) that none of us have ever seen before.”
Emergency responders have been searching through the wreckage of the local candle factory, removing bodies.
Its roof had collapsed during the storm, trapping 110 employees. An estimated 40 people have been rescued, but hopes were dimming for those still trapped.
“It’ll be a miracle if anybody else is found alive,” Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear said.
The tornado wreaked havoc over a strip about a kilometer wide, crossing the city from west to east.
“It looks like a bomb has exploded in our community,” Mayfield resident Alex Goodman told AFP.
Beshear estimates that the “death toll from this event is north of 70 Kentuckians and may end of exceeding 100 before the day is done,” he said.
“This is the most devastating, most deadly tornado event in Kentucky’s history,” Beshear said.
Beshear declared a state of emergency and deployed state police and the National Guard.
On Broadway, the main street in this town of 10,000 people, old red brick buildings that were once a source of local pride were shattered by the storm.
The city courthouse lost a part of its roof, as well as its tower and clock. Two nearby churches were badly damaged. One of them was missing a roof, and torn electric poles littered the ground.
US President Joe Biden called the wave of tornadoes, including one that travelled more than 320km, “one of the largest” storm outbreaks in American history.
“It’s a tragedy,” a shaken Biden, who pledged support for the affected states, said in televised comments.
“And we still don’t know how many lives are lost and the full extent of the damage.”
The Federal Emergency Management Agency is sending emergency response personnel, water and other needed commodities to the region, NBC News reported.
Biden also approved Kentucky’s state of emergency and ordered federal assistance.
Also shown in the before-and-after images is the Monette Manor Nursing Home in Arkansas, where at least one person died, and devastated farms also in Monette.
Scores of people were trapped in the nursing home when the tornado hit.
Also destroyed was an Amazon warehouse in Illinois, leaving at least six people dead.
– With wires
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