Building Collapse in Philadelphia - News - @ JEMS.com


Video, Photos: Building Collapse in Philadelphia

One building was being demolished when another suddenly collapsed

 

 
 
 

KATHY MATHESON and KEITH COLLINS, Associated Press | | Wednesday, June 5, 2013

GALLERIES

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Philadelphia Building Collapse

As many as eight to 12 people trapped or injured.
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VIDEOS

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Rescues during Philadelphia Building Collapse

Four-story building collapsed on others in Center City.
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People Trapped in Philadelphia Building Collapse

Four-story building collapsed on others in Center City.
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Update as of 11:19 pm ET:

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Philadelphia's mayor says the collapse of a downtown building that was being demolished has killed six people.

Mayor Michael Nutter discussed the accident and the search and rescue attempts Wednesday night.

Fire officials earlier had reported one woman was killed and 13 people were injured in the accident. But body bags were removed from the rubble hours later.

The four-story building collapsed Wednesday morning.

Several witnesses said they had been casting a wary eye on the demolition site and questioned how the workers were tackling the job. They say they heard a loud rumbling sound immediately before the collapse.

The building once housed a first-floor sandwich shop and apartments above. Its collapse sent debris onto a Salvation Army corner thrift store next door. The two properties are adjacent to an adult bookstore and theater that had been taken down earlier.

Original story follows

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A building that was being torn down collapsed with a thunderous boom Wednesday, raining bricks on a neighboring thrift store, killing a woman and injuring at least 13 other people in an accident that witnesses said was bound to happen.

The woman who died was 35 years old, the mayor said, but no other information about her was released.

Rescuers pulled another woman, trapped amid the rubble of a Salvation Army thrift store, after they heard her voice, city fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers said, and the search for survivors continued hours after the 10:45 a.m. collapse on the edge of downtown.

Rescuers used buckets and their bare hands to move bricks and rubble.

"We do not know how many people were actually in the thrift store this morning when the wall collapsed on the building," Mayor Michael Nutter said late Wednesday afternoon.

Survivors were taken to hospitals with minor injuries, Ayers said.

The collapse involved an empty building that once housed a first-floor sandwich shop and apartments above. The thrift shop was on one side. The other side was an adult bookstore and theater that had been taken down within the last few months.

Several witnesses said they had been casting a wary eye on the demolition site and questioned how the workers were tackling the job. That raised questions about how closely the highly visible spot on Market Street — one of Philadelphia's signature boulevards — was being monitored.

Roofer Patrick Glynn said he had been watching workers take down the doomed building over the past few weeks, and said he suspected a collapse was inevitable because of the methods the workers were using.

"For weeks they've been standing on the edge, knocking bricks off," he said. "You could just see it was ready to go at any time. I knew it was going to happen."

Glynn and Anthony Soli were working on a roof atop a nearby building when they heard what sounded like two loud bangs or explosions. They immediately ran down the scaffolding and helped pull out two women and a man.

Steve Cramer, who has been working as a window washer across the street for several days, said the demolition crew left 30 feet of a dividing wall up with no braces and it compromised the integrity of the building

"We've been calling it for the past week — it's going to fall, it's going to fall," his co-worker Dan Gillis said.

There were no existing violations on the building and the demolition company had proper permits for the work they were doing, according to Carlton Williams of the city's Department of Licenses and Inspections.

The city issued a demolition permit for the four-story structure on Feb. 1. Online records list the contractor as Plato Marinakos Jr., an architect. He told The Associated Press that Campbell Construction was handling the demolition. A message was left at a listing for Campbell Construction in Philadelphia.

A demolition expert wondered what precautions were taken to protect the Salvation Army store, especially since it remained open. Stephen Estrin, a Florida contractor who has testified as an expert at several trials involving building collapses, also questioned whether the demolition was being done by hand or with machinery. A piece of equipment with a claw device was seen amid the debris Wednesday.

"This is an inner-city demolition of a masonry building, which would normally be done manually because of the inherent risk — predictable if certain things are not done very slowly and very carefully — of a collapse," Estrin said. "One of the problems with claw work is it sets up a vibration in the walls."

Witnesses said they heard a loud rumbling sound immediately before the collapse. More than 100 rescuers and several police dogs searched through the rubble.

"I was standing there looking out my window, watching the men at work on the building, and the next thing I know I heard something go kaboom," said Veronica Haynes, who was on the fifth floor of an apartment building across the street. "Then you saw the whole side of the wall fall down ... onto the other building."

Bernie DiTomo was driving past Salvation Army store in his white pickup truck, on his way to an appointment, when the collapse happened.

"The next thing you know, I heard a rumble, and a building and a sign fell on my truck," he said.

He said he lay down in the seat of his cab. It was probably over in about 30 seconds, he said. There was a lot of dirt and dust, but he was able to open the door and get out, unhurt. His truck remained nearby, partially covered in debris, as DiTomo watched recovery efforts from across the street.

High school student Jordan McLaughlin said a thick cloud of dust immediately enveloped the area.

"It was hard to breathe," he said.

The accident happened on the western edge of downtown, between the city's business district and its main train terminal, 30th Street Station. The block had long been a seedy link between gleaming skyscrapers and the busy area around the station.

Maj. John Cranford of The Salvation Army in Philadelphia said officials were coordinating with the police and fire department and sent their own disaster response team to the site to serve survivors and first responders.

"Our No. 1 concern is for the safety of our customers and the employees who were involved," he said. "We ask for the public to pray for those involved."

Records show the collapsed building was sold in 1994 for $385,894. Marinakos, the architect, said plans tentatively called for the block to be redeveloped into retail stores and apartments.

___

Associated Press writers Maryclaire Dale, Michael Rubinkam and Ron Todt contributed to this report.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.



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Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Rescues during Philadelphia Building Collapse



People Trapped in Philadelphia Building Collapse

Philadelphia Building Collapse

Gallery 1

Philadelphia Building Collapse

Rescue personnel work the scene of a building collapse in downtown Philadelphia, Wednesday, June 5, 2013. A four-story building being demolished collapsed Wednesday on the edge of downtown, injuring 12 people and trapping two others, the fire commissioner said. Rescue crews were trying to extricate the two people who were trapped, and the dozen people who were injured were taken to hospitals with minor injuries, according to city Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers. (AP Photo/Jacqueline Larma)


Gallery 1

Philadelphia Building Collapse

Rescue personnel evacuate an injured person from the scene of a building collapse in downtown Philadelphia, Wednesday, June 5, 2013. A four-story building being demolished collapsed Wednesday on the edge of downtown, injuring 12 people and trapping two others, the fire commissioner said. Rescue crews were trying to extricate the two people who were trapped, city Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers said. The dozen people who were injured were taken to hospitals with minor injuries, according to Ayers. (AP Photo/Jacqueline Larma)


Gallery 1

Philadelphia Building Collapse

Rescue personnel evacuate an injured person from the scene of a building collapse in downtown Philadelphia Wednesday June 5, 2013. A four-story building being demolished collapsed Wednesday on the edge of downtown, injuring 12 people and trapping two others, the fire commissioner said. (AP Photo/Jacqueline Larma)


Gallery 1

Philadelphia Building Collapse

Emergency personnel respond to a building collapse in downtown Philadelphia, where the city fire commissioner says as many as eight to 10 people are believed trapped in the rubble, Wednesday, June 5, 2013. (AP Photo/Dino Hazell)


Gallery 1

Philadelphia Building Collapse

In this photo provided by Jonathan Hudson, police keep onlookers behind yellow tape near a building collapse in downtown Philadelphia, Wednesday, June 5, 2013. The city fire commissioner says as many as eight to 10 people are believed trapped in the rubble. (AP Photo/Jonathan Hudson)


Gallery 1

Philadelphia Building Collapse

Emergency personnel respond to a building collapse in downtown Philadelphia, where the city fire commissioner says as many as eight to 10 people are believed trapped in the rubble, Wednesday, June 5, 2013. (AP Photo/Jacqueline Larma)


Gallery 1

Philadelphia Building Collapse

Philadelphia Firefighters carry a survivor from the rubble of a building collapse in downtown Philadelphia Wednesday June 5, 2013. A four-story building being demolished collapsed Wednesday on the edge of downtown, injuring 12 people and trapping two others, the fire commissioner said. Rescue crews were trying to extricate the two people who were trapped, city Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers said. The dozen people who were injured were taken to hospitals with minor injuries, he said. (AP Photo/Philadelphia Inquirer, Michael Bryant)


Gallery 1

Philadelphia Building Collapse

Rescue personnel search the scene of a building collapse in downtown Philadelphia Wednesday June 5, 2013. A four-story building being demolished collapsed Wednesday on the edge of downtown, injuring 12 people and trapping two others, the fire commissioner said. Rescue crews were trying to extricate the two people who were trapped, city Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers said. The dozen people who were injured were taken to hospitals with minor injuries, he said. (AP Photo/Philadelphia Inquirer, Michael Bryant)


Gallery 1

Philadelphia Building Collapse

Rescue personnel search the scene of a building collapse in downtown Philadelphia Wednesday June 5, 2013. A four-story building being demolished collapsed Wednesday on the edge of downtown, injuring 12 people and trapping two others, the fire commissioner said. Rescue crews were trying to extricate the two people who were trapped, city Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers said. The dozen people who were injured were taken to hospitals with minor injuries, he said. (AP Photo/Jacqueline Larma)


Gallery 1

Philadelphia Building Collapse

Rescue personnel search the scene of a building collapse in downtown Philadelphia Wednesday June 5, 2013. A four-story building being demolished collapsed Wednesday on the edge of downtown, injuring 12 people and trapping two others, the fire commissioner said. (AP Photo/Jacqueline Larma)


Gallery 1

Philadelphia Building Collapse

Rescue personnel search the scene of a building collapse in downtown Philadelphia Wednesday June 5, 2013. A four-story building being demolished collapsed Wednesday on the edge of downtown, injuring 12 people and trapping two others, the fire commissioner said. Rescue crews were trying to extricate the two people who were trapped, city Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers said. The dozen people who were injured were taken to hospitals with minor injuries, he said. (AP Photo/Jacqueline Larma)



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