Factory bosses threatened to fire employees who left before the tornado, according to workers.
Survivors of the factory collapse claim their bosses threatened to fire them if they left work before the tornado struck.
Mayfield Consumer Products candle factory workers who survived Friday's tornado in Mayfield, Kentucky, have spoken out about what happened when they tried to leave work early to take shelter at their homes.
The candle factory, which employed around 110 people on a night shift, was completely destroyed by the twister.
According to NBC News, at least five factory workers claim that supervisors threatened them with termination if they went home before their shift ended despite hearing tornado sirens.
More than a dozen workers are said to have requested to leave early and seek shelter in their own homes, but their requests were denied.
Others stayed, and at least eight people died inside, despite the fact that some workers went home regardless of what they were told.
Workers first requested to leave work early around 5.30pm, according to McKayla Emery, 21, when sirens were heard.
Emery, who chose to work to supplement her income, spoke from her hospital bed after being struck by a piece of concrete in the factory, trapped for six hours, and suffering from severe chemical burns and kidney damage.
"People were debating whether they could leave or go home," she said, describing how she overheard four nearby employees being told, "If you leave, you're more than likely to be fired."
Haley Conder, 29, a factory employee, told the news outlet that about 15 people had requested to leave their night shift early.
"You can't leave. You can't leave. You have to stay here," Condor recalled the managers telling her.
"I asked to leave and they told me I'd be fired," Elijah Johnson, 20, said, prompting him to ask his boss, "Even with the weather like this, you're still going to fire me?"
"The first warning came, and they just had us go in the hallway," forklift operator Mark Saxton, 37, said. "After the warning, they had us go back to work; they never offered us to go home."
"It's absolutely untrue," Mayfield Consumer Products spokesman Bob Ferguson said in response to the workers' claims.
Since Covid's inception, we've had a policy in place.
"Employees are free to leave whenever they want and return the next day."
On Monday, The Sun contacted the Mayfield Consumer Products candle factory, but did not receive a response.
Only 40 people were rescued from the wreckage of the Kentucky candle factory when it collapsed.
Gov. Andy Beshear of Kentucky said on Sunday that he believes more than 100 Kentuckians died in the disaster and that another factory rescue is unlikely.
Hundreds of workers are believed to be dead as the search for them continues in Mayfield.
"I don't think we'll see another rescue," Beshear said on State of the Union.
"It may end up being the largest loss of life in any tornado event in a single location in the state's history," the governor said.
On Monday, Beshear announced that the death toll had risen to 74, with a 5-year-old in Muhlenberg County and a three-year-old in Shelby County among those confirmed in the state.
Gov. Beshear said on CBS' "Face the Nation" on Sunday, "I know we've lost a number of kids."
"This tornado didn't discriminate; it hit anyone in its path, even if they were trying to stay safe, in a way we've never seen before."
In response to the deadly tornadoes, President Joe Biden has signed a federal emergency declaration for the state.
The National Guard has been called in to assist the state police in their rescue efforts.
"This tornado event may surpass the 1974 super outbreak as one of the deadliest in Kentucky history," said Michael Dossett, Kentucky Emergency Management Director.
Many of Kentucky's hardest-hit areas are still under curfew, and residents are being urged to stay away.
A state police news release stated that "citizens who are not actively involved in rescue operations or emergency services are encouraged to avoid travel to and around the affected areas."
"Due to widespread power outages, traffic control devices are not functioning, and there is no available lighting at many intersections throughout the area, posing a serious safety risk."
Tornadoes touched down in at least six states as a result of the storm, killing several people in Arkansas.
In Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, Mississippi, and Tennessee, up to 30 tornadoes were reported.
The storm ripped through parts of Missouri and Tennessee before crossing into Kentucky and traveling over 200 miles.
For impacted residents, Kentucky state parks and 11 shelters have been opened.