An Amazon warehouse in Edwardsville, Illinois, collapsed Friday due to severe weather.At least 6 deaths have been confirmed and an unknown number of people are still missing.Officials said Saturday it is now a recovery operation as they do not expect to find more survivors.
At least six workers have died and an unknown number are missing after an Amazon warehouse in Edwardsville, Illinois, collapsed Friday night due to severe weather, according to authorities.
One person was airlifted to a regional hospital and 45 people made it out of the wreckage safely, James Whiteford, the Edwardsville fire chief, said during a news conference Saturday.
"We don't expect that anyone will be surviving at this point," he said, adding that the rescue operation has now become a recovery operation. The recovery is expected to last an additional three days, with searches conducted during daylight hours.
The number of people who were inside the warehouse at the time of collapse is unknown. Whiteford said Amazon did not have a specific count and there was a shift change underway when it happened.
Officials said the collapse was caused by tornadoes and severe storms that ripped through five states: Arkansas, Illinois, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Missouri.
Delivery vehicles with the Amazon Prime logo sit parked at a damaged Amazon.com, Inc warehouse as emergency crews respond after a tornado passed through Edwardsville, Illinois, U.S., December 10, 2021 in this still image taken from drone video obtained on December 11, 2021.
A wall the length of a football field and the roof above it collapsed in the warehouse around 8:33 p.m. Rescue teams were onsite overnight, combing through the rubble, officials said.
Amazon said it was providing support for "employees and partners in the area."
"We're deeply saddened by the news that members of our Amazon family passed away as a result of the storm in Edwardsville, IL," a representative for Amazon said in a statement to Insider. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their loved ones, and everyone impacted by the storm. We also want to thank all the first responders for their ongoing efforts on scene."
Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker said at a news conference Saturday it was a "tragic day in Illinois history."
"Everyone assumes that they'll be safe at work," he said, speaking to the people who lost loved ones. "Please know the people of Illinois stand with you."
Pritzker said he spoke with President Joe Biden, who offered to provide federal assistance to help with the recovery.
Describing the warehouse during a press conference earlier on Saturday, Edwardsville Police Chief Michael Fillback said it was an "utter disaster" with a portion of the building "completely destroyed."
More than 11 emergency service departments from surrounding areas responded to the scene.
A few hours after the event, writing on their Facebook, the Collinsville Emergency Management Agency stated that "subjects were trapped inside" and described the event as a "mass casualty incident."
"Please be patient with us. Our fire personnel is doing everything they can to reunite everyone with their loved ones," Fillback said on KMOV-TV.
A heavily damaged Amazon fulfillment center is seen Saturday, Dec. 11, 2021, in Edwardsville, Ill.
Insider spoke to a man whose brother-in-law an Amazon worker at the Edwardsville warehouse was missing.
Kevin, who wishes to only go by his first name, describes rushing to the warehouse after picking up his sister and niece as fast as the speed limit let him.
"When we arrived at the area, all roads leading to the location were blocked by emergency services. We sat on the highway for three hours waiting to get to go to the location and pick him up to take him home," Kevin told Insider.
They then hurried to the Pontoon Beach police dept where other employees had been taken.
"We had sat here for an hour desperately calling hospitals and police departments in the area trying to locate him. Then his boss had gotten a hold of my sister to tell her that he was unaccounted for.
We kept blowing his phone up, hoping for an answer from him. We've called him over 100 times. No luck."
Kevin, his sister, and his niece are now waiting to hear any news, but he tells Insider that he believes his brother-in-law is dead.
FOX2 spoke to the stepson of an Amazon worker who was missing.
"Our mother is basically hysterical at this point, trying to find out what's going on. She's really worried. We're worried too. At this point, I'm starting to get pretty scared that he got hurt or worse." said Connor Jones.
Two maps highlighting the damaged Amazon warehouse, one showing it in the context of the wider midwest, and one in the context of Illinois
Reuters spoke to Sarah Bierman, who was waiting at the warehouse for her husband, an Amazon employee at the site.
She told a reporter that she hadn't heard from him since the collapse.
"I just heard through the news and we live in Edwardsville; we lost power. So I decided to come down here to see what was going on, and I had no idea the building looked that bad. And I'm just I'm worried sick," she said.