(The Center Square) – At least six people died after an EF3 tornado ripped through an Amazon warehouse in Edwardsville.
That’s among the scores of other people across several states who were killed by powerful storms late Friday.
Illinois victims were found in two locations of the destroyed Amazon warehouse in Edwardsville. The damage was extensive, destroying about 150 yards of the facility, Edwardsville Fire Chief James Whiteford said during a Saturday evening news conference.
“The walls on both sides of the building collapsed inward,” Whiteford said. “The roof of the building collapsed downward so most of the weight of the building landed centrally into the building. These walls are made out of about 11 inches thick concrete and they’re about 45 feet tall, so a lot of weight when that came down.”
Initial recovery was hazardous.
“The building was still charged with electrical at that time,” Whiteford said. “In addition to water that was leaking, the mains were broken and it was pouring into the building, and we also had gas leaking from natural gas.”
As of Saturday evening, about 45 people had been reunited with their families. One person had to be airlifted to an area hospital.
Officials said they don’t know how many people were in the building when the tornado hit.
“It was a shift change going on, that’s my understanding,” Whiteford said. “They have vans that come in and they drop off the vans and then people get off in their cars and they leave, so as shift change was going on, the number of the people in the building was varying.”
Their search has shifted to recovery mode during daylight hours only and is expected to last around three days.
For those who want to assist, officials suggest donating to the American Red Cross or to the Salvation Army.