At least 74 people are dead and more than 100 still missing in Kentucky after tornadoes ravaged the area, shaken Gov. Andy Beshear said Monday.
The governor fought back tears at a morning press conference as he talked about the youngest victims — at least seven under the age of 18, including several babies just months old.
He had put the death toll at 64 — then increased it by 10 in the afternoon, adding, “We expect that this death count will continue to grow.”
Additional victims may include 2-month-old Oaklynn Koon, whose parents revealed on Facebook that she died in a hospital Monday morning, 48 hours after her family home in western Kentucky was ripped apart. It wasn’t immediately clear if the official toll included Oaklynn’s death. Beshear said a 5-month-old died in the weather disaster. At least one other infant was listed among the dead, also.
“Like the folks in western Kentucky, I’m not doing so well today, and I’m not sure how many of us are,” the governor said at the morning press conference.
There were at least another 14 deaths in Illinois, Tennessee, Arkansas and Missouri as a result of the twisters that tore through the Midwest on Friday night.
Newly emerged video Monday showed the complete devastation, with towns reduced to rubble and “matchsticks” where rows of houses stood before Friday.
Rescuers resumed their search for survivors early Monday, especially in Kentucky, where President Biden declared a federal emergency and hundreds of National Guard troops were mobilized.
“People of western Kentucky have gone through an unspeakable trauma. You go from grief to shock… in the span of 10 minutes, and then you go back,” Beshear said. “It’s hard to understand how something like this can happen.”
The governor added it is hard to think of the survivors as “lucky,” given some of them have lost everything.
He told ABC’s “Good Morning America” early Monday that he had lost two of his own relatives as the tornado wiped out his father’s hometown of Dawson Springs.
“We need prayers. We are still hoping for miracles,” the governor said as the dig continued.
Dozens feared dead in a candle factory in Mayfield, Ky. — the ground zero of the storms — were found alive, sparking hopes that the death toll wouldn’t be as dire as initially thought.
By early Monday, the factory said eight were confirmed dead, with another eight still missing.