After some extreme weather conditions and tornados in the Midwest and South on Friday night, an Amazon warehouse in Edwardsville, Illinois collapsed. A report from Reuters stated that at least six deaths have been confirmed, and a number of workers are still missing.
This was posted on Illinois’ Collinsville Emergency Management Agency’s Facebook page as a “mass casualty” incident. After a while, an update with a photo of the event’s aftermath was posted that showed a large portion of the warehouse entirely torn away by the storm.
In a press conference held this morning, police chief Mike Fillback stated that authorities have had trouble finding out “how many people we actually had at that facility at the time because it’s not a set staff.” Amazon management was there to help create a list of staff members who are accounted for, however, Fillback notes that it’s still difficult to determine how many people remain trapped inside the collapsed building.
Reuters says that at least 45 people reportedly made it out of the facility safely. While some were transported by bus to a safe area and reunited with family, others were able to leave the scene on their own. It is estimated that around 110 people were inside at that time.
“The safety and well-being of our employees and partners is our top priority right now,” Amazon spokesperson Richard Rocha said in a statement to The Verge. “We’re assessing the situation and will share additional information when it’s available.”
There are regions affected by the tornado too. According to NBC News, 70 fatalities are expected in Kentucky, while one was killed after a possible tornado hit a nursing home in Arkansas. President Joe Biden tweeted that the administration is “working with Governors to ensure they have what they need as they search for survivors and damage assessments continue.”
Jeff Bezos wrote, “All of Edwardsville should know that the Amazon team is committed to supporting them and will be by their side through this crisis”. Bezos had been in Texas that morning for his spaceflight company’s rocket launch that brought six people to space, including former NFL star Michael Strahan.
“Requiring workers to work through such a major tornado warning event as this was inexcusable,” said Stuart Appelbaum, the president of the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union. “This is another outrageous example of the company putting profits over the health and safety of their workers, and we cannot stand for this.”