President Muhammadu Buhari has extended the sympathies of the nation to the government and people of the United States following devastating tornadoes ripping across six states, leaving destruction and death on their trail.
Reacting to the catastrophe shown around the globe since Friday, President Buhari, in a statement from his office, was quoted as saying, “the destruction of whole towns, flattening of houses, schools, hospitals, businesses and other social infrastructure on a scale never seen before is deeply saddening.”
He said, “our deepest sympathies go to all those affected, as well as the government and the American people.”
The President urged fellow citizens to join the rest of the world in praying for the deceased and the quick recovery of other victims and their families at this difficult time.
Media reports say at least 100 people were feared dead in Kentucky after a swarm of tornadoes tore a 200-mile path through the U.S. Midwest and South.
The monster tornadoes demolished homes, levelled businesses, setting off a scramble to find survivors beneath the rubble, officials said Saturday.
The powerful twisters, which weather forecasters say are unusual in cooler months, destroyed a candle factory and the fire and police stations in a small town in Kentucky, ripped through a nursing home in neighbouring Missouri, and killed at least six workers at an Amazon warehouse in Illinois.
Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear said the collection of tornadoes was the most destructive in the state’s history.
He said about 40 workers had been rescued at the candle factory in the city of Mayfield, which had about 110 people inside when it was reduced to a pile of rubble.
It would be a “miracle” to find anyone else alive under the debris, Beshear said.
“The devastation is unlike anything I have seen in my life and I have trouble putting it into words,” Beshear said at a press conference.
“It’s very likely going to be over 100 people lost here in Kentucky.”
Beshear said 189 National Guard personnel have been deployed to assist with the recovery.
The rescue efforts will focus in large part on Mayfield, home to some 10,000 people in the southwestern corner of the state where it converges with Illinois, Missouri and Arkansas.
Video and photos posted on social media showed brick buildings in downtown Mayfield flattened, with parked cars nearly buried under debris. The steeple on the historic Graves County courthouse was toppled and the nearby First United Methodist Church partially collapsed.
Mayfield Fire Chief Jeremy Creason, whose own station was destroyed, said the candle factory was diminished to a “pile of bent metal and steel and machinery” and that responders had to at times “crawl over casualties to get to live victims.”
Paige Tingle said she drove four hours to the site in the hope of finding her 52-year-old mother, Jill Monroe, who was working at the factory and was last heard from at 9:30 p.m.
“We don’t know how to feel, we are just trying to find her,” she said. “It’s a disaster here.”
Saying the disaster was likely one of the largest tornado outbreaks in U.S. history, President Joe Biden on Saturday approved an emergency declaration for Kentucky.
He told reporters he would be asking the Environmental Protection Agency to examine what role climate change may have played in fuelling the storms, and he raised questions about the tornado warning systems.
“What warning was there? And was it strong enough and was it heeded?” Biden said.
Kentucky officials called on residents to stay off the roads and to donate blood, as responders rushed to rescue survivors and account for people in communities that had lost communications.
“We’ve got Guardsmen who are out doing door knocks and checking up on folks because there’s no other communication with some of these people,” said Brigadier General Haldane Lamberton of the Kentucky National Guard.