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“Very severe weather” destroyed part of an Amazon distribution centre in Edwardsville, Illinois, on Friday evening, killing two people and trapping many others, Edwardsville’s police chief said.
Chief Mike Fillback told a news conference early Saturday that a large portion of the building’s southern point was destroyed.
One person died at the warehouse and two people were airlifted to hospitals in St. Louis, about 25 miles away. A bus took about 30 people from the building to the police station in Pontoon Beach for evaluation, he said.
The event was extremely severe, he said, adding that the building, which was largely made up of steel and concrete, was covered with debris.
The roof of the structure was ripped off and a wall the length of a football field collapsed.
Fillback said, “Our prayers are with those directly affected.”
In Edwardsville around the time of the collapse, the National Weather Service reported “radar-confirmed tornadoes,” but it was not immediately clear whether the damage was caused by straight-line storms or a tornado.
At least 100 emergency vehicles converged on the Amazon warehouse
Rescue crews continued to sort through rubble in the early hours of Saturday, and Fillback said the work could last several hours. The debris was moved with the aid of cranes and backhoes.
The number of people trapped inside the facility is unknown. Aerial views of the scene show rows of emergency vehicles beside piles of debris and rows of bare building pillars.
According to the Bellville News Democrat, Amazon opened the 1.5 million square foot facility in Edwardsville five years ago.
A spokesperson for Amazon said the company is “deeply saddened by the news an Amazon family have passed away.”
“We are thinking and praying for the victims, their loved ones, and all those affected by the tornado,” they added.
Source: NBC News