PHILADELPHIA (AP) – Buoyed by the discovery of a woman buried in rubble nearly 13 hours later, rescue workers on Thursday were digging through the debris from a building collapse that killed six people a day earlier, even though they believed no one else was trapped.
Crews still need to search about 20 percent of the site of the collapse, including the back of a thrift store onto which the vacant four-story building under demolition collapsed, an effort that was expected to last through the afternoon, authorities said.
At least 14 people were injured in Wednesday’s collapse, including the 61-year-old woman who was pulled from the debris nearly 13 hours later and hospitalized in critical condition.
“That’s why we stay the course,” City Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers said. “This person being pulled out alive is what this rescue operation is all about.”
The sense of urgency had subsided after workers combed through bricks and rubble using buckets and their bare hands well into the night. A crane arrived at the site Thursday morning to be used later in the search.
It was unclear what role the demolition work might have played in the collapse, but the accident raised questions about how closely the highly visible spot on Market Street, one of Philadelphia’s signature boulevards, was being monitored, particularly amid word of the demolition contractor’s many legal and financial troubles. Officials from the U.S. Department of Labor and Occupational Safety and Health Administration were at the scene.
For weeks, people working nearby had watched with growing concern as a crew took down the vacant four-story building next to a Salvation Army thrift store at the edge of downtown.
A roofer atop another building didn’t think the operation looked safe. A pair of window washers across the street spotted an unbraced, 30-foot section of wall and predicted among themselves the whole building would simply fall down. READ MORE