Around 78 fatalities across five U.S. states have been confirmed following the series of severe tornadoes that devastated communities in the South and Midwest over the weekend.
At least 40 tornadoes were reported in nine states between late Friday and Saturday morning, per a report. Kentucky was among the states that suffered the most, with at least 64 confirmed deaths as per Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear, who said that the number “is fluid” and “will change.”
“Undoubtedly, there will be more,” Beshear told reporters. “We believe it will certainly be above 70, maybe even 80. But again, with this amount of damage and rubble, it may be a week or even more before we have a final count on the number of lost lives.”
The governor, who has two family members among the deceased, said 18 bodies have yet to be identified.
“Of the ones that we know, the age range is five months to 86 years old, and six are younger than 18,” he said.
Over 300 soldiers from the Kentucky National Guard have been stationed throughout the state to assist local authorities to clean up debris and find survivors, Beshear said.
In Illinois, six victims died when a tornado struck an Amazon facility. Four more were killed in Tennessee. Two deaths were confirmed in Arkansas and two more in Missouri, according to officials.
There are 69 tornado-related deaths across the U.S. each year, according to statistics from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The most deadly tornado to strike Kentucky was recorded on March 27, 1890 where 76 people were killed.