6 Dead, 14 Injured in Philadelphia Building Collapse; Search Operations Halted
Late Wednesday night, a 61-year-old woman was found alive amid the rubble of a collapsed building in Philadelphia and taken to a nearby hospital where she remains in critical condition. The search for other survivors has been halted as of Thursday morning.
Five women and one man died in the accident, and a total of 14 people were injured. The surviving woman who was pulled from the rubble after being buried for 13 hours is named Myra Plekam, of Kensington, Pennsylvania.
The construction company Griffin Campbell had been demolishing a nearby building using heavy machinery when an exterior wall toppled in the wrong direction, and tons of debris fell onto the adjacent Salvation Army store. The shop was open for business at the time.
Search-and-rescue crews worked through the night, removing rubble and sifting through the debris. No one knows exactly who or how many were in the store at the time of the collapse, but all people known to be missing have been accounted for.
Neighborhood residents and other construction professionals who had seen the site before the collapse were suspicious of what was going on during the demolition, for which Griffin Campbell had all the necessary permits. The Salvation Army shop was so close to the ongoing destruction process that some thought it was inevitable that something like this would happen. According to the Washington Post, "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."
"Our thoughts and prayers go out to those who lost their lives, and their families," Mayor Michael Nutter said at a press conference late Wednesday. "This has been a tough day here in the city of Philadelphia, but we're a pretty tough city and we're quite resilient."