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VOL. 45 | NO. 50 | Friday, December 10, 2021

Kentucky safety agency to review tornado deaths at factory

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MAYFIELD, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky's workplace safety agency will look into the deaths of eight people who were killed at a candle factory during the violent weather that spawned tornadoes in five states, the governor said Tuesday.

Gov. Andy Beshear told reporters that the Kentucky Division of Occupational Safety and Health Compliance would undertake a monthslong review of the deaths, which happened at the Mayfield Consumer Products factory as storms raked the area starting Friday night.

The governor said that such reviews are done whenever workers are killed on the job.

"So it shouldn't suggest that there was any wrongdoing. But what it should give people confidence in, is that we'll get to the bottom of what happened," he said.

State and local officials say the company told them that all other workers have been accounted for. Initially, authorities feared a much higher death toll at the factory because dozens of employees were working late to make candles for holiday orders. But Louisville Emergency Management Director E.J. Meiman said late Monday that authorities now "have a high level of confidence that nobody is left in this building."

Mayfield, home to 10,000 residents and the candle factory, suffered some of the worst damage in the country.

Beshear's comments come as workers, volunteers and members of the National Guard fanned out in Kentucky to start the long recovery process. The tornado outbreak that killed at least 88 people — 74 of them in Kentucky — cut a path of devastation that stretched from Arkansas, where a nursing home was destroyed, to Illinois, where an Amazon distribution center was heavily damaged.

Across Kentucky, about 24,000 homes and businesses were still without electricity Tuesday, down slightly from the day before, according to poweroutage.us.

The tornadoes also killed at least six people in Illinois; four in Tennessee; two in Arkansas, where the governor said nursing home workers shielded residents with their own bodies; and two in Missouri.

The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced Monday that it had opened an investigation into the collapse of the Amazon warehouse in Edwardsville, Illinois.

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Schreiner reported from Dawson Springs, Kentucky. Associated Press Writer Rebecca Reynolds in Louisville, Kentucky, contributed to this report.

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