MAYFIELD, Kentucky (CBSDFW.COM/AP) – Officials in Kentucky are saying they are hopeful that the death toll may not be as high as they initially feared.

Eight people are confirmed dead at a Kentucky candle factory that was hit by a tornado and another eight remain missing, but dozens more have been accounted for, a company spokesman said Sunday.

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A collapsed factory and surrounding areas are seen in Mayfield, Ky. after deadly storms. (Credit: AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

The announcement raises hopes that the toll from a Midwest twister outbreak won’t be as high as first feared.

While officials initially said 40 of 110 workers at Mayfield Consumer Products had been rescued, spokesman Bob Ferguson said more than 90 people had now been located.

Eight people remain missing, but there is still a chance they could be found safe.

Ferguson said many of the employees were gathered in the tornado shelter and after the storm was over they left the plant and went home.

Tamara Yekinni hugs a friend outside a shelter in Wingo, Ky. She was an employee at the factory. (Credit: AP Photo/Robert Bumsted)

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Questions Remain About Why The Plant Continued To Operate

The Mayfield Consumer Products factory was the third-biggest employer in this corner of western Kentucky, an important economic engine that churned out candles that lined the shelves of malls around the U.S.

But why its Friday night-shift workers kept making candles as a ferocious tornado bore down on the region remains unknown as rescuers continue scouring the wreckage of the plant for signs of life.

Kentucky’s governor said Sunday the ferocity of the storm was so great that there was nowhere safe to hide inside the plant.

This statement is at odds with Ferguson’s earlier statement, which mentioned employees gathering safely in the tornado shelter.

It is unclear if workers were properly informed of the severe weather situation, or if they were given enough time to get to the shelter before the storms bore down on them.

(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press also contributed to this report.)

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