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A week after tornadoes ripped Midwest, overall death toll closer to 100

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A week after tornadoes ripped Midwest, overall death toll closer to 100
Tornado damage is seen in Dawson Springs, Ky., on Wednesday. Photo by Tannen Maury/EPA-EFE

Dec. 17 (UPI) -- About a week after a rash of deadly tornadoes devastated the Midwest and killed dozens of people, the toll has again risen across several states -- with the overall death count now getting closer to 100.

Crews have been digging through debris all week since the twisters hit in nine states last Friday and Saturday. Kentucky was one of the hardest hit states.

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Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., both took a tour of the tornado damage on Friday.

The total death toll from the tornadoes has varied among authorities and news reports.

Volunteer Susan O'Toole looks through debris after a house was destroyed by a powerful tornado in Defiance, Mo., on Sunday. At least two people died in Missouri. Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI

USA Today reported that there have been 88 deaths in the South and Midwest, including 76 in Kentucky. The New York Times reports at least 90 dead after a teen's body was found in Kentucky. ABC News also reports 90 dead -- including 76 in Kentucky, six in Illinois, four in Tennessee, two in Arkansas and two in Missouri. It's the highest death toll from a tornado outbreak in the United States since 2011, when 170 died.

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The victims' ages range from 2 months to 98 years old. So far, a total of 35 tornadoes last weekend have been confirmed across nine states.

The National Weather Service has said the funnel that destroyed the bulk of the candle manufacturing plant in Mayfield, Ky., had wind speeds of 190 mph, rating as an EF4 -- the second-strongest tornado.

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The twister stayed on the ground for at least 163 miles as it cut a swath from southwestern Kentucky to the northeast, according to recent NWS estimates.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear planned to give an update on recovery efforts at the state Capitol in Frankfort on Friday before touring Taylor County, which was another area heavily affected by the tornado.

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