EDWARDSVILLE, IL —Authorities have identified the six people killed when an Amazon warehouse in Edwardsville, Illinois, collapsed amid severe weather Friday night, including at least one confirmed EF-3 tornado.
Those killed include Deandre S. Morrow, 28, of St. Louis, Missouri; Kevin D. Dickey, 62, of Carlyle; Clayton Lynn Cope, 29, of Alton; Etheria S. Hebb, 34, of St. Louis, Missouri; Larry E. Virden, 46, of Collinsville; and Austin J. McEwen, 26, of Edwardsville, according to a news release from the Edwardsville Police Department.
Fire officials are continuing to clear debris from the site and working with Amazon to account for all employees who’d been inside the building the night of the tornado, according to a news release from the Edwardsville Police Department.
On Saturday, Edwardsville Fire Chief James Whiteford said 150 yards of the building collapsed after it was hit by the tornado. He said 45 people were rescued from the building, including one person who was airlifted to a regional hospital for treatment.
He said officials do not expect to find any additional survivors. Authorities are asking anyone who has a relative who was at the facility and who is still missing to contact Edwardsville Police Department at 618-656-2131.
“At this time, there are no additional reports of people missing,” authorities said in a statement Sunday.
The National Weather Service confirmed an EF-3 tornado, with winds of at least 136 mph, hit the Edwardsville area.
Whiteford said recovery efforts are expected to take three more days.
Gov. J.B. Pritzker accompanied Edwardsville officials including Whiteford and Fillback at a press conference Saturday to offer the grim update.
“It’s devastating, and I cannot imagine the pain that you are feeling at this moment,” Pritzker told community members. “We will stand with you to help you in your grief, and then to honor your loved ones.”
Pritzker praised emergency responders who rushed to the facility, saving lives and locating some of those who were missing. Whiteford said police officers and Amazon workers alike pulled people from the rubble in the aftermath of the tornado.
The governor said he spoke with President Joe Biden and FEMA officials to make sure federal officials are coordinating with the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA). Pritzker said he also spoke with representatives from Amazon, “and implored them to provide every assistance to this community, which they have said they intend to do.”
Late Friday night, KMOV reported excavators and a Life Flight helicopter arrived at the scene.
Rescue crews were still working at the scene Saturday. Cranes pulled sections of ceiling and wall away from the collapsed portion of the building, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. Tow trucks were also seen removing crushed cars.
“The safety and well-being of our employees and partners is our top priority right now,” Amazon spokesperson Richard Rocha said in a written statement to The Associated Press. “We’re assessing the situation and will share additional information when it’s available.”
The National Weather Service confirmed a tornado near Edwardsville just after 8:30 p.m. Friday. A second tornado warning was in effect for the area through 10:30 p.m.
Storm survey update: We have found at least EF-3 damage 2.3 miles NE of Pontoon Beach at the Amazon Facility. NOTE – this survey is still ongoing and the rating for this tornado may increase. To follow along as we rate damage – check out this website: https://t.co/yMJcRHs2ya pic.twitter.com/5Tf8vSlCwP
— NWS St. Louis (@NWSStLouis) December 11, 2021
Late Friday night, Pritzker issued a statement saying he had reached out to Edwardsville Mayor Art Risavy to offer state resources.
“My prayers are with the people of Edwardsville tonight,” Pritzker tweeted. “Our @ILStatePolice and @ReadyIllinois are both coordinating closely with local officials, and I will continue to monitor the situation.”
Anyone wishing to make a donation to assist those affected by the tornado are encouraged to donate to the American Red Cross or Salvation Army.