Tornado damage and fatalities: live updates


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Aerial footage from local media showing weather damage to an Amazon warehouse in Edwardsville, Illinois. Officials said there were “confirmed deaths” after a roof collapsed in the warehouse.CreditCredit…Neeta Satam for The New York Times

Police in Edwardsville, Ill. Said there were at least two “confirmed deaths” at an Amazon warehouse after a direct hit from a tornado caused a collapse of a much of the building Friday night, leaving “catastrophic damage to a significant portion” of the building.

Three people were rescued from the building and one was taken to hospital, said Mark Mayfield, captain of the Edwardsville fire department. He did not know the person’s status on Saturday morning, but said he believed the person was in “stable condition”.

Thirty workers left the building unharmed, police said. A bus carried several workers to join families at nearby Pontoon Beach, said Michael Fillback, the Edwardsville police chief.

Captain Mayfield said he did not know how many workers were inside the building when the tornado struck around 8:30 p.m., but Chief Fillback told St. Louis station KDSK-TV on Saturday that this number was not “hundreds”. Chief Fillback estimated at a press conference on Saturday morning that about 50 people were in the building.

Emergency responders received the initial call at 8:38 p.m. and arrived several minutes later, Captain Mayfield said, with about 100 responders on the scene shortly after the building collapsed. More than a dozen police, fire and emergency medical services across the region responded.

Police blocked the entrance to the campus on Saturday morning, which is about 20 minutes northeast of St. Louis.

The two-year-old building sits in a distribution center on the west side of town with around 20 warehouses ranging from around 100,000 to 1.4 million square feet, he said. There is another Amazon warehouse across the highway. The tornado caused a wall the size of a football field in the warehouse to collapse, as well as the roof above, according to the Associated Press.

“About half of it is missing, let’s go,” Captain Mayfield said of the building, which is about 400,000 square feet. The other half of the building remained standing on Saturday morning, he said, adding that workers were able to safely evacuate from that area.

“There is a lot of concrete debris; it’s mostly a concrete and steel structure, ”Chief Fillback said on Saturday morning, adding,“ It’s windy outside so things are unstable.

On Saturday morning, a constant stream of construction vehicles entered the scene. Workers appeared to be using a crane to clear the wreckage from the site. The winds continued to blow above 20 mph on Saturday morning, causing cars to tremble.

Ingrid Barahona, 37, was on a delivery route 20 minutes from the warehouse when the building collapsed.

On Saturday morning, she was trying to find out what had happened to another worker who was still missing.

“I ask God that she was okay,” she said.

On Saturday morning, Ms Barahona borrowed her sister’s car to drive with her 4-year-old daughter to a parking lot near the warehouse. The tow truck drivers were removing the cars from the disaster site. Many of them have been destroyed; Ms. Barahona’s car sustained significant damage.

Jordon and Kelsi Bryn, of Bethalto, Ill., Were parked on the side of the road near the warehouse. They said they were relieved that Ms Bryn’s mother, who works as a delivery driver at the Amazon facility across from the damaged warehouse, was fine. They said the storm hit minutes after she left work on Friday night.

Ms Byrn’s mother told her she left the building just before Amazon told workers to take shelter in place. “When she was on the freeway, there were so many overturned semi-trailers that she had to turn around and wait under an overpass until the storm passed,” Ms. Byrn said.

Captain Mayfield said the remaining part of the building would likely need to be demolished. “I don’t see any way to get it back,” he said.

Heavy machinery was brought in to move the collapsed walls to make sure no one else was missing, and rescue teams were checking inside vehicles that had been crushed by the collapsed walls. .

“We are deeply saddened by the news that members of our Amazon family have died as a result of the storm in Edwardsville, Ill.,” Said Kelly Nantel, Amazon spokesperson on Saturday. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their loved ones and all those affected by the tornado.”

Amazon opened two warehouses in Edwardsville, about 40 kilometers east of St. Louis, in 2016, employing about 2,200 people, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported in 2017.


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