PHILADELPHIA, June 2013 – At lest six people were killed and 13 injured when an abandoned building being demolished in the US city of Philadelphia collapsed onto a neighbouring thrift store, Mayor Michael Nutter said late Wednesday.
As workers were demolishing the abandoned four-story building in downtown Philadelphia, it collapsed around 10:45 am (1445 GMT) on a two-story Salvation Army thrift store.
“So far the fire department and search and rescue teams have transported 13 individuals to various hospitals, and they survived,” Nutter told reporters.
“We can now confirm that there were six people who died, one man and five women,” he said.
Nutter gave no details on the identity of the victims.
Officials do not know how many people were in the store at the time of the accident, so rescuers will continue to sift through the rubble searching for possible victims through the night, Nutter said.
Fire chief Lloyd Ayers said workers would continue clearing the debris in what he predicted would be a “12 to 24-hour operation.”
Marc Newall, 46, ran to help from his nearby workplace after the collapse.
“In a matter of seconds, I heard the massive rumble… you could just see a massive amount of brown dust flying across the street,” he said.
He joined others in clearing the debris covering two women, and said that within 20 minutes after the Fire Department showed up, five people were rescued from under the collapsed building.
“It was a knee-shaking experience,” Newall said.
The contractor hired to demolish the building that collapsed had filed for bankruptcy protection in March, and has a criminal record stemming from a phony car-wreck scheme, the Philadelphia Inquirer newspaper reported, citing court records.