Midwest tornado destroys Amazon warehouse, killing six

Six people died Friday night when a severe storm hit an Amazon warehouse in Edwardsville, Illinois, and dozens more lost their lives in nearby Arkansas, Missouri, Kentucky and Tennessee.

Edwardsville Police identified six people who died as a result of the EF-3 twister.

“The Edwardsville Fire Department is still working to clear debris from the site and working with representatives from Amazon to bring the property back under their control,” Edwardsville Police Chief Michael Fillback said in a declaration, noting that everyone who worked on the site is accounted for.

“Unfortunately, six people lost their lives due to this devastating event and one person remains hospitalized with serious injuries.”

The Edwardsville facility, known as DLI4, opened in July 2020. Spanning 1.1 million square feet, it employed about 190 people providing last-mile deliveries to customers.

In an email to RegisterScott Allen, regional director of public affairs and media relations for the US Department of Labor, confirmed that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is investigating the Amazon warehouse collapse.

“OSHA has opened an investigation into the collapse of the building at the Amazon warehouse in Edwardsville, Illinois, due to a tornado,” Allen said.

“OSHA has had compliance officers at the complex since Saturday, December 11, to provide assistance. OSHA has six months to complete its investigation, issue citations, and propose monetary penalties if violations of workplace safety or health standards are found. No further information will be available until OSHA has completed its investigation. “

No other deaths or injuries were reported in the city of Edwardsville, Police Chief Fillback said, although there was significant damage to structures and property.

Illinois Governor JB Pritzker (D) issued a disaster proclamation Monday to accelerate aid to affected areas in the state.

Also on Monday, Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear (D) celebrated a press conference in which he described the storm as the worst in Kentucky history. The state was hit by at least four tornadoes, he said, one of which remained on the ground for more than 200 miles, leaving a trail of devastation in its wake.

At least 64 people died from the storm, Beshear said, and that number is likely to exceed 80 as rescue and recovery efforts continue. Thousands of houses, he said, have been destroyed and it may take weeks before there is a full tally of losses.

Officials in Tennessee have confirmed four storm-related deaths, while Missouri Gov. Mike Parson (R) reported at least two dead on Saturday. Two other people reportedly lost their lives in the storm in Arkansas.

“We are deeply saddened by the news that members of our Amazon family passed away as a result of the storm in Edwardsville, Illinois,” Amazon spokeswoman Kelly Nantel said in an emailed statement to Register. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims, their loved ones, and all those affected by the tornado. We also want to thank all the first responders for their continued efforts at the scene. We continue to provide support to our employees and partners in the area.”

Amazon has pledged $ 1 million to the Edwardsville Community Foundation as it works with state and local officials on relief and recovery.

The tragedy has renewed concern that a suspended rule that prohibits Amazon warehouse workers from bringing phones into work areas could be revived. Rule, abandonment in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, denied workers direct access to emergency information and communication while on the warehouse floor.

When asked if the storm has prompted the company to re-evaluate its warehouse phone rules, Amazon said: “Employees and drivers can have their cell phones.” ®

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