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Amazon warehouse hit by tornado, 6 confirmed dead, report says

A warehouse near St. Louis reportedly suffers a direct hit that brings down a wall the size of a football field.

First responders surround a damaged Amazon Distribution Center on Dec. 11, 2021, in Edwardsville, Illinois.
First responders surround a damaged Amazon Distribution Center on Dec. 11, 2021, in Edwardsville, Illinois.
Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images

At least six people were reportedly confirmed dead at an Amazon warehouse near St. Louis, after a hit from a tornado Friday night caused part of the building to collapse.

Forty-five people made it out of the building, The New York Times reported Saturday evening, citing the fire department in Edwardsville, Illinois. Police there said that about 50 people had been in the structure, the Times reported earlier in the day.

The 2-year-old concrete and steel building is in a distribution hub on the west side of Edwardsville with about 20 warehouses, the Times said. It suffered a direct hit from the tornado, the paper said, with the Associated Press reporting that a wall the size of a football field collapsed along with the roof above it.

Rescue teams worked Saturday to clear rubble and find anyone unaccounted for, the Times said.

"We're deeply saddened by the news that members of our Amazon family passed away as a result of the storm in Edwardsville, IL," Amazon said in a statement Saturday. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their loved ones, and everyone impacted by the storm. We also want to thank all the first responders for their ongoing efforts on scene. We're continuing to provide support to our employees and partners in the area."

Unseasonably strong storms and tornadoes ravaged Illinois and several other states in the South and Midwest overnight, with Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear saying that the death toll there could exceed 100, the Times reported. The White House said in a statement that President Joe Biden spoke with Beshear on Saturday morning, expressing his condolences and indicating that he's directed the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other US agencies to provide the fastest help possible.

Biden and Beshear were staying in touch throughout the day while search and rescue operations and damage assessments continued, the White House said.

Cinematographer Chris Phillips tweeted out aerial footage of the devastated Amazon facility in Illinois.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is investigating the collapse, multiple outlets reported Monday. "OSHA investigates all workplace fatalities and we are supporting them," said Kelly Nantel, Amazon spokesperson.