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At least two dead after Amazon warehouse collapse in Edwardsville, police say

Workers attempt to clear debris as part of a search and rescue operation on Saturday, Dec. 11, 2021, at an Amazon Distribution Hub in Edwardsville, Illinois. Violent storms, some producing tornado activity, ripped through the Midwest on Friday night, killing at least two in the warehouse.
Brian Munoz
St. Louis Public Radio
Workers attempt to clear debris as part of a search and rescue operation on Saturday at an Amazon Distribution Hub in Edwardsville. Police confirmed at least two people died.

Updated at 9:20 a.m. with information from the Edwardsville police chief.

At least two people died when a “significant weather event” caused major structural damage to an Amazon warehouse Friday night in Edwardsville, according to authorities.

Edwardsville Police Chief Michael Fillback confirmed the deaths to reporters in an early-morning news conference. Officials have not released the identities of the people who died as of Saturday morning pending family notification.

Another person was taken by helicopter to a St. Louis area hospital with injuries. Fillback said he was not aware of the extent of the person’s injuries.

He said there were a few other minor injuries but that no one was else was hospitalized.

Fillback said the incident happened about 8:33 p.m. The National Weather Service had issued a tornado warning for the area around that time. It caused part of the Amazon warehouse to collapse.

The greatest damage appears to be on the building’s west side, where steel support pillars stand exposed with the walls having collapsed and roofing blown away.

First responders had difficulty entering the site because of unsecured concrete, downed power lines and water from the building’s fire suppression system, according to Fillback. He said authorities also did not know how many people were in the warehouse and who might be missing.

Ameren responded to secure the power lines, and other companies secured the concrete, according to Fillback.

He said Amazon officials were also on scene to help authorities build a list of possible people who were inside. Authorities also talked to workers before some of them left the site Friday night.

Fillback said about 30 people were taken by Madison County Transit to the Pontoon Beach Police Department to be reunited with their families. Others left on their own. It was not clear early Saturday morning if search and rescue crews were still looking for people inside the building. Families can report missing loved ones to the Edwardsville Police Department, Fillback said.

“There’s a lot of people that are touched by this,” Fillback said. “Our prayers, our concerns go out to those directly affected. “We have first responders, too, that are dealing with this,” he added. “We will make sure that we provide them ongoing support for these things so that when something like this happens in the future, that they’ll be there to do their job.”

Authorities are planning to provide another update Saturday afternoon. Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker issued this statement late Friday night: “My prayers are with the people of Edwardsville tonight, and I’ve reached out to the mayor to provide any needed state resources. Our @ILStatePolice and @ReadyIllinois are both coordinating closely with local officials and I will continue to monitor the situation.”

U.S. Rep. Mike Bost of Southern Illinois’ 12th District, issued a statement via Facebook: “Please join Tracy and me in praying for Edwardsville after last night’s tornado. Thank you to all of the first responders who have worked through the night to rescue those trapped.”

The Belleville News-Democratis a news partner of St. Louis Public Radio.

Lexi Cortes is an investigative reporter with the Belleville News-Democrat, a news partner of St. Louis Public Radio.