Train derailment after tornadoes rips through several US states in Earlington, Kentucky
Train derailment after tornadoes rips through several US states in Earlington, KentuckyREUTERS/Cheney Orr

Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear has said that 70 people are likely to have died from the tornado ripping across the midwestern and southern US, but that the death toll may have already reached 100.

"This is going to be some of the worst tornado damage that we've seen in a long time. This is likely to be the most severe tornado outbreak in our state's history," WLKY quoted Beshear as saying early Saturday.

"We believe our death toll from this event will exceed 50 Kentuckians and probably end up 70 to 100," he added.

According to Kentucky Emergency Management Director Michael Dossett, the current tornado "may surpass the 1974 super outbreak as one of the most deadly in Kentucky's history."

At 5:00a.m. local time, Beshear said he believed that over 56,000 people were without power, the Courier Journal added.

According to the Courier Journal, four tornadoes touched down in Kentucky, the largest of which originated in Arkansas and traveled over 200 miles, weakening only after it reached Central Kentucky. That site also said that Western Kentucky was hit hardest by the storms.

Among the cities which suffered major damage were Mayfield, where most of those killed are believed to have lived, as well as Bowling Green, and Campbellsville, the Journal added. Winds from the storm also took down a powerline on Louisville's Interstate 65.

"Gov. Beshear has declared a state of emergency based on major tornado damage in multiple Western Kentucky counties. He has activated the Kentucky Guard and the KY State Police. The Governor will be providing an update with Kentucky EM officials at 5 a.m. EST in Frankfort," Beshear tweeted.

"We are praying for our Western Kentucky families."