An Amazon warehouse in Edwardsville, Illinois, collapsed late on Friday night after being hit by severe storms, including tornadoes, that rocked the region.
“One of the tornadoes touched down in Edwardsville. During the storm, multiple agencies responded to a collapse at the Amazon distribution center near I-270 and Illinois Route 111. Officials are confirming fatalities,” Fox 2 Now reported. “Authorities said multiple people are trapped inside the warehouse, and there are reports of possibly 50 to 100 workers at the facility.”
The severe weather was connected to a large stormfront that stretched across several U.S. states last night, generating more than 30 tornadoes that left dozens dead.
— FOX2now (@FOX2now) December 11, 2021
Several dozen emergency crews at the Amazon Warehouse on Gateway Commerce Center Drive.
About a third of the warehouse is torn down and damaged from either straight by line winds or tornado.
— Jenna Rae (@journalismjenna) December 11, 2021
Drone footage shows massive damage to Amazon warehouse facility in Illinois after tornadoes tore through the region; at least two are confirmed dead, officials say, and search and rescue efforts are ongoing. https://t.co/8TjaEeXbou pic.twitter.com/Lb30N6jFSn
— ABC News (@ABC) December 11, 2021
— Susan El Khoury (@SusanElKhoury) December 11, 2021
“My prayers are with the people of Edwardsville tonight, and I’ve reached out to the mayor to provide any needed state resources,” Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker said in a statement on Twitter. “Our @ILStatePolice and @ReadyIllinois are both coordinating closely with local officials and I will continue to monitor the situation.”
Amazon responded to the incident in a statement, saying:
The safety and well-being of our employees and partners is our top priority right now. We’re assessing the situation and will share additional information when it’s available.
The largest tornado that struck the region tore through more than 220 miles in Kentucky. Hundreds of thousands of homes were left without power, including 136,000+ in Tennessee, approximately 60,000 in Kentucky, 25,000+ in Arkansas, roughly 24,000 in Illinois, and nearly 10,000 in Missouri.
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear declared a state of emergency and requested that the Biden administration declare an emergency disaster for the state.
“One tornado struck the City of Mayfield which is reporting major damages to public facilities, businesses, and residences. It is reported that a Graves County factory has collapsed, trapping workers and we believe there are at least 50 fatalities,” Beshear said in a statement. “Debris covering emergency vehicle buildings has hampered search and rescue efforts. In Hopkins County, a train carrying hazardous materials has been derailed by a tornado. Vegetative and construction debris cover a multitude of county, state, and federal routes. At this point, at least 17 Kentucky counties have experienced tornadic activity and debris fields. The event is ongoing.”
More than 16 million Americans were subjected to tornado watches last night in nine states as the massive stormfront moved through America’s heartland.
The three-year average from 2018 to 2021 for tornadoes in December across the U.S. is 47, according to the SPC. Some Decembers are more active in terms of tornadoes compared to others. In 2018, there were 66 tornadoes reported, compared to just 18 in 2020.
AccuWeather meteorologists remain concerned that the risk of severe thunderstorms may extend as far north as southern Michigan and northern Ohio early Saturday. Following building warmth and humidity, the lid came off the atmosphere Friday evening as a cold front moved in from the west and lead to explosive thunderstorm development.
During a press conference, Beshear said that as the day progressed, people needed to brace themselves for “more tough news.”
“It has been one of the toughest nights in Kentucky history,” he said. “Some areas have been hit in ways that are hard to put into words.”