Jeff Bezos was criticized for congratulating his latest set of space tourists while ignoring the deaths of at least six Amazon workers in a tornado that struck the warehouse on Friday on Dec.10.
After the 10-minute flight landed in West Texas, the Amazon entrepreneur greeted former NFL star Michael Strahan and the other five members of the latest crew of his New Shepard rocket.
As he opened the capsule door after their return, he said, “Welcome back, guys.”
Before the flight, he shared a selfie of himself with the space flight crew on Instagram, with the caption, “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 hailed his spaceflight accomplishment as search and rescue operations at a collapsed Amazon warehouse in Edwardsville proceeded throughout the day.
About 45 workers managed to escape; it was unclear how many more were still buried in the rubble the size of a football field.
“It’s really sickening if you want my honest opinion,” Twitter user Joshua Dyer posted over a 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 spacemen 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!”
‘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 comments about the incident, Amazon issued a statement about it before Bezos posted about the space flight on Instagram, NY Post reported.
“Our thoughts, prayers, and deepest sympathies are with the victims, their loved ones, and everyone impacted,” Amazon spokesman Richard Rocha said 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.”
Edwardsville Fire Chief James Whiteford said efforts had shifted to “search and recovery” from “search and rescue” because they don’t believe anyone else could have survived the destruction.