Six dead, no hope of more survivors after tornadoes destroy Amazon warehouse near St Louis

Six dead, no hope of more survivors after tornadoes destroy Amazon warehouse near St Louis


Six Inc. workers were confirmed dead Saturday after a series of tornadoes raged through a warehouse near St. Louis, demolishing the roof and collapsing 11-inch concrete walls longer than soccer fields. At least 45 Amazon employees made it safely out of the rubble at the 500,000-square-foot facility in Edwardsville, Illinois, said fire chief James Whiteford. Authorities had given up hope of finding more survivors as they moved from rescue to salvage efforts, which were likely to take days.

Tornadoes swept through six US states Friday night, leaving a trail of death and destruction Homes and businesses that stretch for more than 200 miles. The Amazon facility was hit around 8:38 p.m. local time, Whiteford said. The wind was so strong that the roof was torn off and the building collapsed.

Witnesses said the workers were taken by surprise and forced to take shelter everywhere. “I had a colleague who sent me pictures when he was looking for shelter in the bathroom, practically anywhere he could hide,” says Alexander Bird, who works in a warehouse across the street.

“People had to get on their feet quickly.” According to Amazon, when a location became aware of a tornado warning in the area, all employees were typically notified and directed to move to a designated, labeled shelter.

New employees will be trained in emergency measures and strengthened over the course of the year, the company said. It is unclear how many workers are still missing because Amazon did not have an exact number of people working in the sorting and delivery center at the time of the tornadoes, Whiteford said.

Colleagues and family members desperately seek news of loved ones gathered outside the chaos of concrete and steel. 23-year-old Amazon truck driver Emily Epperson said she was eagerly awaiting information about the whereabouts of her work colleague Austin McEwan late Saturday afternoon to share with his girlfriend and parents.

“We’re so concerned because we think he would have been found by now,” she told Reuters. A mother told a St. Louis news channel that her son Clayton Cope, a 29-year-old maintenance worker, was dead. The police have not yet officially released the names of the dead.

“Everyone assumes they will be safe at work,” said Illinois Governor JB Pritzker. “We don’t think they’ll never come home.” Pritzker said he is in contact with executives at Amazon who have pledged financial support to the community.

Amazon CEO Andy Jassy had previously posted on Twitter that the company was “unhappy about the loss” of its employees and would continue to work closely with local authorities Rescue efforts. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos echoed Jassy in a statement shared on Twitter on Saturday in which he pledged the community’s support for the company.

“Everyone in Edwardsville should know that the Amazon team is committed to supporting them and standing by their side through this crisis,” wrote Bezos. The billionaire was in Texas earlier that day to greet astronauts 2021 -12-11, including the daughter of pioneer astronaut Alan Shepard and former NFL star Michael Strahan when they returned from a space trip aboard his Blue Origin rocket.

“I’m shivering,” said Kathie Burnett, 67, who was working as a delivery driver at Amazon until two weeks ago, when she quit for health reasons. “I would have been standing right in the middle of the track,” she said, pointing to the remains of the facility. “There were 100 trucks in there last night and you didn’t see any this morning, did you?”

(This story was not edited by Devdiscourse staff and is automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)