Bezos under fire for posting about Blue Origin space mission after tornadoes kill staff at Amazon depot

Bezos finally addressed the disaster at Illinois late on Saturday night, after hours of posts about his latest commercial space mission

Namita Singh
Monday 13 December 2021 14:56
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Deaths confirmed in collapsed Amazon warehouse in Illinois after severe weather

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has been criticised on social media for continuing to cheer on his latest venture in space tourism amid the aftermath of a deadly tornado at an Amazon warehouse.

At least six people were killed at the Amazon distribution centre in Edwardsville, Illinois after a tornado led to the collapse of the building on Friday night. While 45 people made it out of the building, one person was airlifted to a regional hospital, said Edwardsville fire chief James Whiteford during a news conference on Saturday. The first responders are continuing “to search the site for evidence of life” he added.

There was initially no reaction to the news from Mr Bezos online, however, as the billionaire instead dedicated his social media posts to Saturday’s launch of the New Shepard rocket with six space tourists, including Laura Shepard Churchley, the daughter of first US astronaut Alan Shepard after whom the rocket is named.

“Happy crew this morning in the training centre,” said Mr Bezos in an Instagram post on Saturday morning. The crew also included former NFL star and Good Morning America host Michael Strahan, as well as four other paying customers.

“You should worry about the tornado situation more,” wrote one user in response to the post.

“Will any of your Amazon workers ever take the flight?” slammed another.

It was many hours later, and once the rocket launch was over, that the entrepreneur tweeted about the Illinois warehouse deaths.

“The news from Edwardsville is tragic. We’re heartbroken over the loss of our teammates there, and our thoughts and prayers are with their families and loved ones,” he wrote.

“All of Edwardsville should know that the Amazon team is committed to supporting them and will be by their side through this crisis. We extend our fullest gratitude to all the incredible first responders who have worked so tirelessly at the site.”

However, social media users remained unimpressed.

“Wow! Your just making a statement (sic)?” wrote a user.

“[Jeff Bezos] you care more about putting Captain Kirk into space than worker safety [at Amazon],” tweeted a handle by the name Coalition to Defend Amazon Workers.

“Does this look like heartbroken?” tweeted another activist group called People for Bernie as it shared a screengrab of Mr Bezos’ Instagram post about the space mission.

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