The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) stated on Dec. 13 that it will investigate the partial collapse of an Amazon distribution center in tornado-ravaged Edwardsville, Illinois, over the weekend.
“OSHA has six months to complete its investigation, issue citations, and propose monetary penalties if violations of workplace safety and or health regulations are found. No further information will be available until OSHA has completed their investigation,” Department of Labor spokesman Scott Allen said in a statement. The Labor Department oversees OSHA.
The agency has had “compliance officers” at the Amazon facility since Dec. 11, Allen said.
Six Amazon workers were killed, one was injured, and about 45 people were rescued, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said at a news conference on Dec. 11. The collapse was caused by a tornado that struck the building on Dec. 10 as part of a larger weather system that spawned numerous tornados across the central United States, leaving dozens of people dead and injured in Illinois, Kentucky, and Tennessee.
Pritzker on Dec. 13 issued a disaster declaration across central and southern Illinois. The move frees up state resources to help communities recover from the severe weather.
“We are working directly with the White House and [the Federal Emergency Management Agency] to ensure access to all federal resources for this community,” Pritzker said in a statement. “And as local entities work to secure federal reimbursements and recovery dollars, we will assist every step of the way.”
The Amazon facility’s walls on both sides collapsed inward and the roof collapsed downward, Edwardsville Fire Chief James Whiteford said at a news conference on Dec. 11.
A spokesperson for Amazon, Kelly Nantel, told news outlets that “OSHA investigates all workplace fatalities and we are supporting them,” and Amazon is offering “thoughts and prayers” for “the victims, their loved ones, and everyone impacted by the tornado … we’re continuing to support our employees and partners in the area.”
Amazon officials didn’t respond to a request by The Epoch Times for comment by press time.
President Joe Biden said on Dec. 13 that he will travel to Kentucky on Dec. 15 to survey damage caused by the tornado outbreak.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said that Biden isn’t expected to give a speech during the visit, but will focus on meeting with local officials and “trying to be a source of comfort to people who have gone through a devastating couple of days in their communities.”
“That visit is really about him receiving an update of the work that’s happening on the ground, hearing directly from leaders on what they need more from the federal government, if anything, and he’s going to be very responsive to that,” she said.
Biden, who already has signed emergency declarations for Kentucky, said he stands ready to do the same for Illinois.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.