Shocking satellite images have emerged showing the devastation left behind from one of the largest tornado outbreaks in US history.
A series of before-and-after satellite photographs have emerged that reveal the scale of the devastation in the US states of Kentucky and Arkansas after they were hit with a string of tornadoes.
At least 83 people were killed when an estimated 30 tornadoes tore through approximately six American states, with fears the death toll could rise to 100.
The western Kentucky city of Mayfield was “ground zero” of the storm and became the scene of mass devastation, according to officials.
The satellite images, taken by Maxar Technologies, show collapsed buildings, scorched earth and other end-of-the-world type scenes.
Locations included in the photographs include downtown Mayfield and the Mayfield Consumer Products Candle Factory, which was destroyed.
“It’s changed the landscape … here in Mayfield,” Kentucky State Police Lieutenant Dean Patterson said of the storm.
“We’re seeing (destruction) that none of us have ever seen before.”
Emergency responders have been searching through the wreckage of the local candle factory, removing bodies.
Its roof had collapsed during the storm, trapping 110 employees. An estimated 40 people have been rescued, but hopes were dimming for those still trapped.
“It’ll be a miracle if anybody else is found alive,” Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear said.
The tornado wreaked havoc over a strip about a kilometre wide, crossing the city from west to east.
“It looks like a bomb has exwploded in our community,” Mayfield resident Alex Goodman told AFP.
Mr Beshear estimates that the “death toll from this event is north of 70 Kentuckians and may end of exceeding 100 before the day is done,” he said.
“This is the most devastating, most deadly tornado event in Kentucky’s history,” Mr Beshear said.
Mr Beshear declared a state of emergency and deployed state police and the National Guard.
On Broadway, the main street in this town of 10,000 people, old red brick buildings that were once a source of local pride were shattered by the storm.
The city courthouse lost a part of its roof, as well as its tower and clock. Two nearby churches were badly damaged. One of them was missing a roof, and torn electric poles littered the ground.
US President Joe Biden called the wave of tornadoes, including one that travelled more than 200 miles (320 kilometres), “one of the largest” storm outbreaks in American history.
“It’s a tragedy,” a shaken Biden, who pledged support for the affected states, said in televised comments.
“And we still don’t know how many lives are lost and the full extent of the damage.”
The Federal Emergency Management Agency is sending emergency response personnel, water and other needed commodities to the region,NBC News reported.
Biden also approved Kentucky’s state of emergency and ordered federal assistance.
Also shown in the before-and-after images is the Monette Manor Nursing Home in Arkansas, where at least one person died, and devastated farms also in Monette.
Scores of people were trapped in the nursing home when the tornado hit.
Also destroyed was an Amazon warehouse in Illinois, leaving at least six people dead.
– With wires