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Building Collapses in Philly; 1 Dead

Thursday, June 6, 2013

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A building undergoing demolition work collapsed Wednesday morning onto a thrift store in downtown Philadelphia, killing at least one person, reports said.

As many as 14 other people were said to have been pulled from the debris and hospitalized, according to authorities.

It was unclear how many people were in the structures when the incident occured; active rescue operations continued at the site Wednesday afternoon.

collapsed building
Les Carpenter / Twitter

Rescuers pulled victims from pounds of debris after a building collapsed in downtown Philadelphia on Wednesday.

National news outlets reported the fatality about 2:30 p.m., nearly four hours after the collapse.

An hour before, officials said that at least one person remained trapped beneath the rubble and that 13 victims had been rescued and sent to nearby hospitals with minor injuries. Officials later raised that number to 14.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration was investigating.

The Collapse

A four-story building with a sandwich shop on its first floor crashed down on top of a two-story Salvation Army thrift shop around 10:40 a.m. in the bustling commercial area. It is not clear whether surrounding buildings were also damaged.

The cause of the collapse remained unclear Wednesday afternoon; however, officials said demolition activity had been underway at the four-story structure.

building collapse

The collapse sounded like a "freight train," according to one witness.

Griffin Campbell Construction, based in Philadelphia, was identified as the demolition contractor.

The company had valid and active permits from Philadelphia’s Licenses and Inspections department.

The noise of the collapse sounded "like a freight train," one witness, Mark Newell, told the Philadelphia Inquirer.

"You could hear the moaning" of the people trapped inside, he said.

Witnesses to the Rescue

Another witness, Jordan McLaughlin, told CNN affiliate KYW that the building had "collapsed the wrong way and landed on a thrift shop" that had people inside.

Those injured were believed to be workers and customers in the thrift shop, officials said.

Immediately after the crash, many witnesses—including roofers working on a nearby building and passersby— risked their lives to help rescue those trapped in the brick and mortar rubble, according to various reports.

Bill Roam, a 54-year-old construction worker at a nearby remodeling project, told Fox News that he had heard the collapse and ran over.

He noted that the dust was so thick that it was hard to see, and voiced his concern about the way the building was being demolished.


Tagged categories: Accidents; Commercial contractors; Demolition; Fatalities; Health and safety; Maintenance + Renovation

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