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Kentucky governor says tornado was on ground for over 200 miles

Kentucky's governor says a devastating tornado touched down for 227 miles — more than 200 in his state — and deaths were feared in 10 counties. Governor Andy Beshear said at a news conference Saturday that the state's death toll is "north of 70" and could climb to over 100.

"Earlier this morning at about 5 a.m. we were pretty sure that we would lose over 50 Kentuckians, now certain that that number is north of 70," the governor said at a press conference Saturday morning. "It may in fact end up exceeding 100 before the day is done."

"This will be, I believe, the deadliest tornado system to ever run through Kentucky," Beshear said.

Beshear said 110 people were in a Mayfield candle factory hit by a tornado, and only 40 people have been rescued as of Saturday afternoon.

Local officials said national guard members and emergency workers from across the state were pouring into Mayfield to help with the search and rescue operation following the severe weather.

On Saturday afternoon, President Biden signed an emergency declaration for the state, clearing the way for federal agencies and funding to pour into Kentucky.

"Whatever is needed, the federal government is going to find a way to supply it," Mr. Biden said Saturday at a press conference. 

The president said he plans to visit affected areas and has communicated with some governors of impacted states. He said the relief efforts will be prioritized "until we get this finished."

"I want folks in all these states to know we're going to get through this," Mr. Biden said. "We're going to get through this together, and the federal government is not going to walk away." 

Tori B. Powell contributed reporting.

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