Jeff Bezos was blasted Saturday for cheering on his latest group of space tourists while making no mention of the deaths of at least six workers in an Amazon warehouse hit by a tornado Friday.
The Amazon founder greeted former NFL star Michael Strahan and the other five members of the latest crew of his New Shepard rocket after the 10-minute flight landed in West Texas. “Welcome back, guys,” he said, as he opened the capsule door after their return.
Prior to the flight, he posted a photo on Instagram of himself with the space flight crew and the comment, “Happy crew this morning in the training center” — but made no mention on the social media site of the tragedy at the Amazon warehouse in Illinois.
“You should worry about the tornado situation more,” one woman commented.
The billionaire celebrated his space success in the midst of the tragedy unfolding in Edwardsville, Illinois, where search and rescue operations continued throughout the day at an Amazon warehouse that saw two walls and part of its roof collapse late Friday.
While some 45 workers managed to escape, it was unclear how many might still be trapped in the football-field sized rubble – Amazon was unable to provide a figure to local officials — but Edwardsville Fire Chief James Whiteford said the efforts had shifted to “search and recovery” from “search and rescue” because they don’t believe anyone else could have survived the destruction.
“It’s really sickening if you want my honest opinion,” Twitter user Joshua Dyer posted over video of Strahan celebrating after the rocket landed. “Jeff Bezos has said absolutely NOTHING on the lives lost at his facility in Illinois after a catastrophic tornado left numerous workers trapped. But sure, go play wannabe space men for 10 minutes. Unreal.”
“SHAME ON JEFF BEZOS!!!” posted another Twitter user. “He was in West TEXAS today! His employees lives were lost! He could have taken a 1 1/2 hour flight to St Louis which is only a 30-minute drive from the airport to visit his poorly constructed climate change Amazon warehouse that was destroyed by a tornado!”
‘Really struggling with my rage since Jeff Bezos blasted his major carbon polluting rocket this morning after Amazon workers died in a rare December tornado last night,” commented Twitter user @red_baiting.
While Bezos made no personal comment, Amazon released a statement on the tragedy before he put up his Instagram space post. Amazon did not immediately return a request for comment.
“Our thoughts, prayers, and deepest sympathies are with the victims, their loved ones, and everyone impacted,” Amazon spokesman Richard Rocha in a statement, adding that the company was assessing the situation. “This is a devastating tragedy for our Amazon family and our focus is on supporting our employees and partners.”