EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. – Two people died after severe weather struck an Amazon facility in Edwardsville, Illinois, police Chief Mike Fillback told reporters Saturday morning. The roof of the building was ripped off and a wall about the length of a football field collapsed.
Two people at the facility were taken by helicopter to hospitals in St. Louis for treatment, Fillback said. The chief did not know which hospitals the two had been taken to, or their conditions. Edwardsville is about 25 miles east of St. Louis.
Bommarito Automotive Group SkyFOX helicopter was above the damage Saturday morning. It appears that the damage runs right through the center of the facility. The building appears to be split from Friday night’s severe weather.
It wasn’t immediately clear whether the damage was caused by straight-line storms or a tornado, but the National Weather Service office near St. Louis reported “radar-confirmed tornadoes” in the Edwardsville area at around the time of the collapse.
About 30 people who were in the building were taken by bus to the police station in nearby Pontoon Beach for evaluation.
Early Saturday, rescue crews were still sorting through the rubble. Fillback said the process could take several more hours. Cranes and backhoes were brought in to help move debris.
The Belleville News-Democrat reported that the Amazon fulfillment center in Edwardsville opened with two warehouses in 2016, with 1.5 million square feet of space. The warehouses are used to store items until they are shipped to mail-order customers.
“The safety and well-being of our employees and partners is our top priority right now,” Amazon spokesperson Richard Rocha said in a written statement Friday night. “We’re assessing the situation and will share additional information when it’s available.”
Workers at a National Weather Service office had to take shelter as a tornado passed near their office in Weldon Spring, Missouri, about 30 miles (48 kilometers) west of St. Louis. One person died and two others were injured in building collapses near the towns of Defiance and New Melle, both just a few miles from the weather service office.