Hopes fade for missing in Illinois warehouse collapse

By Toni Matthews BBC News, Chicago Please turn on JavaScript. Media requires JavaScript to play. Advertisement Firefighters have searched a 400,000-square-foot (36,160-sq-metre) warehouse for survivors after a six-floor collapse killed three and injured 13…

Hopes fade for missing in Illinois warehouse collapse

By Toni Matthews

BBC News, Chicago

Please turn on JavaScript. Media requires JavaScript to play. Advertisement Firefighters have searched a 400,000-square-foot (36,160-sq-metre) warehouse for survivors after a six-floor collapse killed three and injured 13 people. Thousands of products were stored in the building in the south-west Illinois town of Chester. Illinois Governor Pat Quinn declared a state of emergency in light of the accident. Local rescue teams are joining in the search for survivors. Mr Quinn, speaking after a cabinet meeting in Springfield, the state capital, said the four people who had not been accounted for had been located. “This was an accident where a building came down,” he said. “Three people are confirmed dead and 13 others are unaccounted for. “We do know at this point that they are accounted for in the centre of the building. We have not confirmed this yet.” The office building was put under local lock and key by the authorities as the rescue and recovery operation got under way. President Barack Obama, who was travelling in Asia at the time of the accident, offered his sympathies on Twitter. He said his prayers were with all affected by the tragedy. “I’m told there is tremendous effort by first responders,” he said. ‘Acres and acres’ As the disaster unfolded on Monday, bulldozers rumbled around the site and earth-movers were seen clearing up debris. Please turn on JavaScript. Media requires JavaScript to play. Local emergency services are focusing their efforts on the partially-collapsed first floor, which housed about 40 storage units. Nate Hoy, a federal safety specialist in control room telecommunications, told the BBC the search was focused on getting to the bottom of the warehouse. “The biggest hurdle that these guys are going to have to overcome is that this looks like a large retail business but they were storing many, many products and about 400,000 sq ft,” he said. He added that the debris was all packed up so they “get up on top of the roof and start going around inside and when we identify an item that we think should be here, we start scouring on top and down to the floor to make sure that nobody was buried up to their chest”. Nate Hoy said the roof had collapsed “acres and acres”, and added the search would be painful as it would be impossible to do without sound equipment that could hear trapped people who had moved off into cover or a back room. There were also 20 to 30 people who were in critical but stable condition, according to the state medical examiner. The city’s mayor, Joe Hynes, told reporters: “I’m devastated that something like this has occurred.” ‘Pretty scary’ The roof of the four-storey office building fell on to the rest of the building, crushing office workers on the lower floors. Chief John Morris said the roof had collapsed several feet onto three people, killing them both. “The building basically collapsed on top of people,” he said. “It’s an absolute miracle that nobody else was killed or injured.” Police had earlier ordered about 2,000 residents to evacuate the nearby shopping centre, schools, a bowling alley and a university dormitory. Howard Kolowy, a representative of the American Red Cross, said he had set up an emergency shelter for the displaced residents. “The place was filled to capacity,” he said. “It’s pretty scary seeing these buildings collapse because you don’t know how far away they were. “You think of the collapse as an earthquake. This is something that was predicted, but nothing can prepare you for this. “We’ve had a long enough history of fires, explosions and collapses in this part of town, so it is pretty scary.”

E-mail this to a friend Printable version Bookmark with: Delicious

Digg

reddit

Facebook

StumbleUpon What are these?

Leave a Comment