6 dead in Philadelphia building collapse

Chopper 6 HD was over the scene of a building collapse in Center City on June 5, 2013.

June 5, 2013 8:07:30 PM PDT
Crews removed at least 5 bodies from the rubble of a massive building collapse in Center City Philadelphia Wednesday evening, bringing the death toll to 6.

Live video images from the 2100 block of Market Street showed rescue personnel gathering around the wreckage of the Salvation Army thrift store starting at 7:45 p.m. Wednesday.

Three rescue vehicles with lights flashing were parked near the collapse site. They were positioned in such a way as to prevent cameras from recording the scene. Rescue crews were scene moving toward the collapse site holding large tarps, presumably to block the view of cameras.

There was activity but no sense of urgency among the rescue personnel, suggesting that what was taking place was the removal of bodies.

As of 8:00 p.m. there had been no official confirmation on how many bodies may have been removed. Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter has called a news conference for 11:00 p.m.

At least one person was said to be unaccounted for earlier Wednesday, following the building collapse that left a 35-year-old woman dead and 13 people injured.

The building came down at 10:43 a.m. Wednesday at 2140 Market Street.

That's where a 4-story building, being demolished, collapsed onto the two-story Salvation Army Thrift Store, located next door.

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter and Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers said on Wednesday afternoon that 14 people were removed from the scene.

Of the 13 injured, most were reported to have minor injuries.

Authorities said the name of the 35-year-old woman who was killed was being withheld at the request of her family. Action News has learned that Wednesday was her first day on the job at the thrift store.

Dan Gillis said he saw the collapse happen, saying "I was working across the street doing windows. They've been working over there for about a week now. It was a 30 foot wall, they started pulling on a piece of steel, and I seen the whole wall just waving back and forth, and as soon as they pulled that out, there was no stopping it."

The collapse brought down part of the thrift store and what looks like converted row homes attached to the back of the building.

Bystanders immediately jumped into action, helping assist the wounded before first responders arrived.

Emergency crews worked feverishly to find victims trapped in the rubble.

"Our firefighters are actively engaged in a search and rescue operation. It is delicate, this is dangerous work," explained Mayor Michael Nutter. "We're going to continue this operation until we are certain that anyone who was in the building has been taken out of the building and is recovered."

Mayor Michael Nutter is asking the public to please avoid the area from 20th Street to the Schuylkill River and Chestnut Street to the Ben Franklin Parkway.

According to officials, there was an active demolition on the 4-story building at 2140 Market by a Philadelphia-based company known as Griffin Campbell Construction. There were no existing violations on the property and the contractor conducting the demolition had a license.