At least two people were killed when a tornado ripped through an Arkansas nursing home, while a roof collapsed at an Amazon warehouse in Illinois, reportedly causing many injuries.
Craighead county judge Marvin Day said the tornado struck the Monette Manor nursing home in north-east Arkansas at about 8.15pm, trapping 20 people inside as the building collapsed. About 90 minutes later the building had been cleared and everyone initially believed to have been inside had been accounted for, but Day said crews still must search the debris for possible additional victims.
“It looks like it’s pretty much destroyed,” Day said of the building. “It happens quick but apparently there was a little bit of time with tornado sirens going off.” Some residents were found in the basement “and were prepared for this”, he said.
Five people had serious injuries and a few others had minor ones, he said. The nursing home has 86 beds.
Meanwhile, footage from St Louis TV stations showed dozens of emergency vehicles at the Amazon centre near Edwardsville, Illinois, about 25 miles (40km) west of St Louis. It wasn’t immediately clear if or how many people were hurt by the roof collapse, but local emergency services called it a “mass casualty incident” on Facebook. One official told KTVI-TV that up to 100 people were believed to be in the building, working the night shift, at the time of the collapse.
The collapse came as a strong thunderstorm, and possibly a tornado, ripped through the St Louis area. Winds of up to 70mph were reported in parts of St Charles and St Louis counties in Missouri. At least three St Charles county residents were hospitalised and several homes in the area near Augusta, Missouri, were damaged.
It wasn’t immediately clear if the damage to the Amazon warehouse was caused by straight-line storms or a tornado, but a large tornado was reported in the Edwardsville area at about the time the building was damaged. The National Weather Service office near St Louis issued reports of “radar-confirmed tornadoes” in the Edwardsville area.
In fact, workers at the weather service office themselves had to take shelter as another tornado passed near their office in Weldon Spring, Missouri, about 30 miles west of St Louis. That twister was suspected of destroying several homes in the Missouri towns of New Melle and Defiance, leaving at least three people injured, one of them hospitalised with serious injuries. Rescue crews worked into the night sifting through damage to make sure there were not additional injuries.
“The safety and wellbeing of our employees and partners is our top priority right now,” Amazon spokesperson Richard Rocha said. “We’re assessing the situation and will share additional information when it’s available.”
The Illinois governor, JB Pritzker, said on Twitter that Illinois state police and disaster officials were coordinating with local officials in Edwardsville, and he was monitoring the situation.
The storms in Illinois and Arkansas were among several places in the midwest that reported tornadoes spotted or on the ground.