Amazon facing criticism after workers' death during tornado

One worker was told to stay when he could have left, girlfriend claims

Amazon facing criticism after workers' death during tornado

Amazon is facing mounting criticism following the death of six of its workers at an Illinois warehouse.

Six Amazon workers were killed when a series of tornadoes hit a warehouse in Edwardsville, Illinois on Friday night, according to reports.

The company is now being questioned on whether adequate shelter was available, whether workers were advised to go there immediately, and whether the shifts should have gone ahead that evening at all, given the warnings of severe weather.

The Edwardsville site received tornado warnings between 8:06 pm and 8:16 local time before the tornado struck the building at 8:27, Amazon said in a statement, according to a report from BBC.

However, one Amazon employee who died at the distribution centre in Edwardsville, Kentucky wasn’t allowed to leave, claimed his girlfriend, according to a report from the New York Post.

Larry Virden was told to stay as a tornado was approaching, said Cherie Jones, whom Virden was texting with before the incident, according to the report.

“He always tells me when he is filling up the Amazon truck when he is getting ready to go back … I was like ‘OK, I love you.’ He’s like, ‘well Amazon won’t let me leave until after the storm blows over,’” she told the Post.

Virden had plenty of time to get out as he sent his text at around 8.23pm, said Jones.

“We heard the tornado didn’t touch down until 8.39pm so he had 20 minutes to get home,” she said.

Another Amazon driver died while sheltering in the warehouse bathroom as the tornado hit Illinois, his colleagues said.

"This never would have happened if they cared about lives over productivity," the sister of one of the other victims commented on social media, according to the report from BBC News.

The web retail giant has been plagued for years with reports on less than optimal working conditions in its numerous warehouses. For example, early last year U.S. senators issued a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos expressing concern about the safety of Amazon employees.

In Canada, after a three-week shutdown, the Trans Mountain Pipeline was safely restarted recently. Previously, Trans Mountain Pipeline Corp said that it is still working to get its pipeline running again after it was shut down during extensive flooding and landslides in British Columbia.