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Mayfield candle factory "looks as if a bomb has dropped on it," mayor says after tornado hit

The mayor of Mayfield, Kentucky, said a candle factory in her city where dozens of people were trapped amid severe weather "looks as if a bomb has dropped on it."

"We hope there are still rescues to be made," Kathy Stewart O'Nan told CBS News' Lana Zak on Saturday. "We fear that it is now just recovery."

There were 110 workers in the factory — Mayfield Consumer Products — when a tornado hit the area as part of a wider storm system that lashed the central U.S. overnight. O'Nan said the building has "completely collapsed," and officials said about 40 people have been rescued.

Pictures showed the factory in shreds and response workers digging through heaps of rubble.   

Severe Weather Kentucky
Emergency response workers dig through the rubble of the Mayfield Consumer Products candle factory in Mayfield, Kentucky on December 11, 2021. Timothy D. Easley/AP

O'Nan said the factory had been very busy because of the holiday season.

"We are very proud of this candle factory because it was begun by a local family, and it has just grown to a very large part of our community," she said.  

The governor said earlier that at least 70 people are dead in the state. Tennessee, Illinois and Arkansas have also reported several storm-related fatalities. 

Midwest Tornadoes
Emergency response workers dig through the rubble of the Mayfield Consumer Products candle factory in Mayfield on December 11, 2021.  Timothy D. Easley/AP

On Saturday, many residents in Mayfield were without power and running water. Mayfield Electric and Water Systems reported that 5,288 customers out of its tracked 5,299 were experiencing power outages as of Saturday afternoon, according to the database, which tracks national outages. 

The city's main fire station and city hall were demolished by the storm, O'Nan said. Churches have opened their doors throughout the city and in the neighboring county for those impacted by the storms. 

The town's main shelter is at Mayfield High School, the mayor said.

"We have a lot of people who don't know where they will sleep tonight, except for a shelter," she said. 

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