A six-story apartment building in Davenport, Iowa, that partially collapsed over the weekend was scheduled to start being demolished on Tuesday, despite concerns from members of the community that their missing loved ones are still stuck inside.
Following pressure from locals to conduct additional searches, officials confirmed during a Tuesday news conference that five individuals remain unaccounted for and two are likely still trapped in the wreckage.
What are the details?
More than a dozen people were evacuated from the building following the collapse on Sunday afternoon. Within the 24 hours that followed, another eight people were rescued from the debris.
Davenport Mayor Mike Matson and Fire Chief Michael Carlsten reported that the six-story building contained 84 residential and commercial use units.
The cause of the building’s partial collapse remains unknown as the investigation continues. However, according to Carlsten, fire crews discovered a natural gas leak and water leaking from a broken pipe.
Officials reported on Monday that no deaths had been confirmed and no credible information existed that anyone remained inside.
The rest of the building, which is structurally unsound, was set to be demolished Tuesday. However, a ninth survivor was rescued from the debris on Monday evening.
The woman was pulled from the building around 8 p.m. on Monday after being trapped inside for more than a day. She was able to alert rescue crews by calling her family and waving for help.
The latest rescue sparked protests urging local officials to delay the scheduled demolition, with community members insisting some of their loved ones are still missing.
Rescue crews consisting of over 150 personnel have used thermal imaging, drones, and canines to assist with locating survivors of the collapse, officials reported.
Following the “extensive rescue operations,” city officials stated Monday night that they found “no confirmed viable signs of life.”
According to Davenport’s chief strategy officer, Sarah Ott, officials are “continually evaluating the timing of the demolition,” which she described as a “multi-phase process that includes permitting and staging of equipment.”
“The building remains structurally insecure and in imminent danger of collapse,” Ott said.
Community members organized a demonstration near the building site on Tuesday morning to protest against the demolition. Locals held up signs that read, “Find Them First” and “Who is in the Rubble” and used megaphones to call out the names of the building’s residents.
During a Tuesday afternoon news conference, officials provided an update that confirmed community members’ fears. They reported that five individuals remain unaccounted for and two may still be trapped inside.
Matson called it an “unthinkable” situation.
Fire Marshal James Morris stated that the building is “unstable and continues to worsen as time progresses.”
“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,” Morris stated.
He added, “We’re very sympathetic to the possibility that there’s two people” trapped inside.
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