A US Amazon facility suffered a “partial building collapse” when a severe storm ripped through the region, with local police and fire departments putting search and rescue operations in place and reports of workers injured.
Police in south Illinois said the operation was under way after a “severe weather event” — possibly a tornado — hit the facility on Friday evening.
At least 100 emergency vehicles headed to the site after a wall the length of an American football field collapsed, according to local media reports.
Aerial footage appeared to show much of the roof of the facility had fallen in and the Collinsville Emergency Management Agency said it was a “mass casualty incident”, adding that multiple people were trapped inside the warehouse.
According to data from logistics analysts MWPVL, the Edwardsville facility, about 20 miles from St Louis, is a 700,000 sq ft large “non-sortable” fulfilment centre.
Such buildings typically employ about 1,000 workers, according to Amazon’s website, though during the peak Christmas season it can be significantly more.
“The safety and wellbeing of our employees and partners is our top priority right now,” Amazon said. “We’re assessing the situation and will share additional information when it’s available.”
Dave Clark, the Amazon executive in charge of its fulfilment network, said on Twitter: “Thoughts and prayers going out to our team in Edwardsville tonight and thank you to all the first responders.”
Edwardsville police chief Mike Fillback said it was unknown how many people were inside the building at the time of the collapse.
“This is a fairly new building so it’s not something that we’re used to seeing,” he added, speaking to CBS affiliate KMOV.
The station’s reporters said about 40 workers had been taken from the site on buses to a nearby police station for evaluation.
One person was transported away from the facility by helicopter, according to Associated Press.
“My prayers are with the people of Edwardsville tonight, and I’ve reached out to the mayor to provide any needed state resources,” said Illinois governor, JB Pritzker, in a tweet.
Severe storms across five states in the American Midwest claimed at least four lives on Friday, AP said.