Five unaccounted for in wreckage of collapsed Iowa apartment building
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Five people remain unaccounted for, including two people whose remains may be in a pile of rubble at the site of a partially collapsed apartment building, officials of the city of Davenport, Iowa, said Tuesday.
Mayor Mike Matson confirmed the numbers at a news conference following criticism that the city was moving too quickly toward demolishing the building before making sure that no one is still inside.
Protests erupted after a woman was rescued Monday night, hours after the city ordered the demolition to begin as early as Tuesday.
“This could be a place of rest for some of the unaccounted,” Matson said. The city is trying to determine exactly how to bring down what remains of the building in a way that accounts for the dignity of people who may have been killed, he said.
A family member of one of the missing people also spoke, pleading with people to understand that authorities want to bring the remains of the six-storey building down in a controlled way without dumping more material onto the rubble pile. “I plead with community to let the city do their job,” the woman said.
The building is “unstable and continues to worsen as time progresses,” Fire Marshal James Morris said. “It's the opinion of the structural engineer that any additional search operations in the area of that pile of debris should be avoided due to potential collapse. We are currently evaluating the risk assessment of where we can go back into that building to do this other search.”
“We're very sympathetic to the possibility that there's two people” still left inside, Morris said as he fought back tears.
Protesters carried signs Tuesday morning near the building site, saying “Find Them First” and “Who is in the Rubble?” Some used a megaphone to shout out names of building residents. The building had 53 tenants in about 80 units, the police chief said.
City officials said rescue crews escorted 12 people from the building shortly after a middle section collapsed about 5 p.m. Sunday, and rescued several others, including one person who was taken to safety overnight Sunday.
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