Several workers were reportedly trapped inside a huge Amazon warehouse in Illinois after a roof and other parts of the building collapsed when violent storms, including a tornado, ripped through the area.
Emergency service vehicles and rescue workers were massed outside the building in Edwardsville, in west-central Illinois, as the area remained under a tornado warning.
It was not immediately known how many workers were trapped nor the extent of any injuries. But law enforcement authorities were calling it a “mass casualty event,” according to reporter Jenna Rae at KMOV-TV in St. Louis. She reported that about a third of the building appeared be down. Another reporter estimated that as much as half of the building may have collapsed.
The National Weather Service reported that radar had confirmed a tornado just east of Edwardsville around the time the Amazon Fulfillment Center was damaged by high winds.
The area remained under a tornado watch until 11 p.m. local time.
People with friends and loved ones in the building gathered outside late Friday for news.
Aiesha White told Rae she rushed to the scene after talking on the phone to a family member who was inside the building at the time of the collapse.
“He was on the phone with me while it was happening,” she said. “What appeared to be a tornado was hitting the back of the building, the trucks were coming in, I told him to jump out the truck and duck. We watched the building go up, stuff hitting the cars. I told him I was on my way.”
White arrived at the building but had not been able to find her family member late Friday.
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.