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Mayfield Candle Factory: Tornado tears up candle building in Kentucky, leaving many to search for loved ones

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Someone was taking attendance, “and then the next thing you know, there was like a little gust of wind,” Parsons-Perez said.

Then his ears started to click, and it was as if the building was tipping over. “Then boom, it all fell on us,” Parsons-Perez told CNN’s Boris Sanchez on Saturday morning.

There were few buildings left standing in the town of about 10,000 people, and this completely wiped out the Mayfield Consumer Products candle factory, where more than 100 people worked. The factory “was operating 24/7” in part to meet the demand for Christmas candles, US Representative James Comer, who represents the region, told CNN.

Parsons-Perez said something hit her head, and when the chaos stopped she said her legs were stuck under a water fountain.

She started hearing moans and prayers from her co-workers, she said, and she tried to keep them calm by making jokes and calling 9-1-1.

But as the minutes stretched and she lost the sensation in her toes, she too became worried, she said. At one point, she started broadcasting on Facebook Live.

“I don’t know who’s watching,” she said, and her panicked colleagues could be heard in the background. “All of you, please send us help. We are trapped. The wall is stuck to me. No one can reach us. You all. Pray for us. Try to find someone to help us. ”

By what appears to be a miracle, Parson-Perez was rescued from less than 5 feet of rubble and had to scale that heap to get out.

‘I’m looking for you, baby’

Others, it seems, were not so lucky.

When the storm passed, people were at the site of what had been the factory, now just a pile of debris and rubble, looking for relatives and friends who they knew were working there on Friday. evening. About 40 people were still missing as of Saturday afternoon, Graves County Coroner Brad Jones told CNN. Jones declined to provide more information.

As of Saturday afternoon, 40 people had been rescued, Beshear said.

“There is at least 15 feet of metal with cars on it, barrels of harsh chemicals there, it will be a miracle if someone else is found alive in it,” Beshear said.

At least 70 dead in Kentucky alone, governor says after tornadoes hit central and southern United States

Ivy Williams was still looking for his wife, Janine, on Saturday morning.

Williams said he heard from his wife on Friday night before the tornado hit. His daughter told him that the factory was damaged, but when he arrived at the scene he was not ready to see the building completely razed.

Williams managed to get two people out, he said, but couldn’t find his wife.

“I’m looking for you, baby,” Williams said. “We’re all looking for you right now. ”

Emergency response teams from across the state were assisting in the search on Saturday.

“I’m standing outside of what was the factory now, and it’s a level of devastation none of us have seen before,” Beshear told CNN.

“We have dozens of people looking here, hoping. Unfortunately, we haven’t had a successful rescue since around 3 a.m.,” Beshear said on Saturday morning. “There is just a huge amount of casualties here and across the Commonwealth.”

The damaged courthouse and other buildings in downtown Mayfield, Ky. Can be seen in this drone image.

At least four tornadoes have struck western Kentucky, tearing a wide path of destruction, the Kentucky emergency management services chief said. In total, more than 30 tornadoes were reported in six states during the deadliest tornado outbreak on record in December. At least 79 people were killed.

“The track for this tornado event is over 200 miles just in Kentucky,” said Michael Dossett. The damage “could exceed the 1974 Super Outbreak,” a devastating tornado system that razed hundreds of homes in Louisville as it tore apart more than a dozen states.

Beshear declared a state of emergency on Friday and all resources are being deployed, he said. National Guard positioned to search for survivors in multiple counties

Beshear said he had also requested an emergency declaration from the White House, which is also sending resources.

The factory was one of the city’s largest employers

On Saturday morning, Parsons-Perez said she was going to the hospital for a checkup because she had a headache and was in pain.

“Once I got out of there, there was nothing I could do except thank goodness,” she said. “It’s the only thing that saved me. It’s amazing that someone went from there.”

Debris and structural damage can be seen at the Mayfield Consumer Products candle plant in Mayfield, Ky., Early Saturday morning

Mayfield Mayor Kathy Stewart O’Nan, who was with Beshear to assess the damage, told CNN her heart was broken seeing the destruction.

The factory, started by a local woman, was one of Mayfield’s largest employers, and many employees were inside by the time the storm hit, working overtime due to the busy season. holidays.

O’Nan said she hopes the community will come together.

“We are a small community. We are a strong community. I know that in the months to come we will see the best of the townspeople,” said O’Nan. “That’s what we do. We take care of each other in difficult times.”

CNN’s Claudia Dominguez and Andy Rose contributed to this report.


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