A building collapse in Center City, Philadelphia yesterday has left 6 people dead and has injured another 14.
One survivor was pulled from the wreckage 12 hours after the collapse, according to Bloomberg News. The building collapse was sudden and unexpected and its cause remains under investigation. The city’s mayor, Mayor Michael Nutter, speaking at the scene said, “We don’t know what brought that particular wall down.” Nutter did say that five women and a man were among those who had died, according to The Associated Press (AP).
The collapsed building, a four-story structure being prepared for demolition, leveled much of a Salvation Army thrift store at 22nd and Markets Street at 10:45 yesterday morning, Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers and Fire Captain Jeffrey Thompson told Bloomberg News. STB Investment Corp., the collapsed building’s owner, received its demolition permit earlier this year. The permit indicates that the key contractor is Griffin Campbell Construction of Philadelphia.
According to just-released documents, the building was a 14,552-square-foot (1,350-square-meter) structure that was slated to be entirely removed and that there were no “open violations” associated with the building’s address, according to Bloomberg News.
Nutter told ABC News that, according to officials, no more people were buried in the building’s rubble following a 30-hour search-and-rescue operation.
Those who died were Kimberly Finnegan (35), Borbor Davis (68), Anne Bryan (24), Juanita Harmin, Mary Simpson and Roseline Conteh. Finnegan, Davis, and Bryan were in the Salvation Army building at the time of the collapse, said ABC News. Two of those who died were employees at the Salvation Army, the company said. At least one of the 14 injured remains in critical condition at an area hospital.
Although no violations were reported at the address, Nutter and the city’s commissioner of licenses and inspections, Carlton Williams, told ABC News that complaints over the Center City demolition site’s working condition were never pursued.
A routine inspection revealed no violations at the property; however, this was before demolition began. “No subsequent inspection occurred to indicate there was any unsafe conditions,” Williams said. “We did not follow up and we are definitely looking into that.” Nutter, according to ABC News, vowed that a “wide-ranging investigation” into how and why the building collapsed will be conducted.
Two construction workers who were working nearby and not at that property, told The Philadelphia Inquirer that they watched the demolition with skepticism because of the unsafe practices they observed, ABC News said. “Never in all my years have I ever, ever, ever seen this,” Steve Cramer, one of the nearby workers, told the paper. “It was just a total disregard for safety. We [predicted] this last week. I can’t believe they allowed the thrift store to be open.”
“I said, ‘That’s it, at lunch I’m going to go over there and say something, I have to, I can’t go with this no more,'” Joe Hauser, another worker, told the paper.