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100+ feared killed in ‘worst tornado outbreak’ in US history

The president officially declared a federal disaster emergency on Saturday afternoon after pledging the government’s “full support” to the devastated communities earlier in the day. Biden suggested the wrath of nature was “likely to be one of the largest tornado outbreaks in our history,” adding that his administration stood ready to declare similar federal emergencies for the governors of other states hit by the storm.

The death toll from the series of storms is likely to surpass 100 in Kentucky alone, Governor Andy Beshear declared during a press conference on Saturday, as search and rescue operations continued across the region.

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At least four separate tornadoes ripped through the state, with the most devastating one travelling more than 227 miles (365km) across Kentucky, laying waste to all in its path and leaving over 60,000 residents without power.

It “will be a miracle” if anyone else was found alive in the candle factory demolished by the windstorm in Mayfield, where the Coast Guard is assisting in rescue operations, the governor added. The factory, which collapsed with some 110 workers believed trapped inside, has seen over 40 rescued, but the number of casualties “could rise significantly.”

Arkansas, Illinois, Missouri, Mississippi and Tennessee were also hit by powerful storms and tornadoes overnight. Over 100 tornado warnings went out as the devastating windstorms tore through the midwestern communities.

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