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Crews search for wreckage after 6 people died at Amazon facility in Illinois

Search efforts at an Amazon facility in Illinois where at least six people died in the tornado are expected to take several days, but authorities said they don’t expect to find more people survive.

The company did not say how many people were in the building not far from St. Louis when the tornado hit at 8:35 p.m. Friday – part of a vortex passing by Midwest and the South razed entire communities.

Edwardsville Fire Chief James Whiteford said both sides of the warehouse used to prepare deliveries collapsed inwards and the roof tilted.

Authorities received reports of workers being trapped and the fire department arrived within six minutes, according to Whiteford. Police helped pull people out of the rubble. While 45 staff members survived, six were killed and a seventh was taken to hospital.

Whiteford said the crew will search the wreckage for several days, but considering the considerable damage, authorities do not expect to find any more survivors. Authorities have not released the names of the victims.

The damage is huge; Steel supporting structures were exposed after walls and roofs fell.

“These walls are made of concrete 11 inches thick and about 40 feet high,” said Whiteford.

Among those hoping for answers is Sarah Biermann, whose husband is an Amazon employee and was getting off a delivery van Friday night.

“I don’t know what’s going on. She told KDSK-TV.

Employee Amanda Goss had just started her first week at a new job as an Amazon delivery driver when a tornado hit.

“When I looked up, the corner of the building shook, and it went down to the garage area and then I felt the gates coming in behind me,” Goss told KTVI-TV. “All I did was sit there in my truck hoping it wouldn’t move.”

The Amazon facility, of three in Edwardsville, is a 1.1 million square foot (102,193 square meter) “delivery station” that employs about 190 workers in multiple shifts, according to Amazon. The facility, which opens in July 2020, prepares “last mile delivery” orders for customers. Edwardsville is a short walk from St. Louis about 25 miles (40 km) northeast.

Amazon spokeswoman Kelly Nantel said in a statement: “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims, their loved ones and all those affected by the tornado. eddy. “We are continuing to support our employees and partners in the region.”

When a site receives a tornado warning, all employees will be notified and directed to move to a shelter, Amazon said.

But company officials declined to answer specific questions about when the employee was warned.

A union representing retail workers that promotes Amazon’s employees’ organization has criticized the company for “dangerous labor practices” for letting employees work in inclement weather.

“Time and time again Amazon puts its bottom line above the lives of its employees,” Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Department of Retail, Wholesale and Department Stores Alliance, said in a statement. “It is inexcusable to require workers to work during such a large tornado warning event.”

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/police-midwest-b1974620.html Crews search for wreckage after 6 people died at Amazon facility in Illinois

JACLYN DIAZ

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