PHILADELPHIA — A building that was being torn down collapsed with a thunderous boom yesterday, raining bricks on a neighboring thrift store, killing a woman and injuring at least 13 other people in an accident that witnesses said was bound to happen.
Another woman was pulled from the rubble of the Salvation Army thrift store two hours after the collapse when rescuers heard her voice, city fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers said. The search for survivors continued hours after the 10:45 a.m. collapse on the edge of downtown and was to go on through the night, Ayers said, with rescuers using buckets and their bare hands to move bricks and rubble.
“We’re hoping that anyone that’s inside is in a void and we can have a live rescue,” he said. “If not, we’ll just take this apart a little at a time.”
The woman who died was 35 years old, Mayor Michael Nutter said, but no other information about her was released.
Officials said they would keep excavating to make sure there were no other victims.
“We do not know how many people were actually in the thrift store this morning when the wall collapsed on the building,” Mayor Michael Nutter said late yesterday afternoon.
He said officials from the Department of Labor and Occupational Safety and Health Administration were at the scene.
Survivors were taken to hospitals with mostly minor injuries, and some had been treated and released by evening.
The collapse involved an empty building that once housed a first-floor sandwich shop and apartments above. The thrift shop was on one side. The other side was an adult bookstore and theater that had been taken down within the last few months.
Several witnesses said they had been casting a wary eye on the demolition site and questioned how the workers were tackling the job. That raised questions about how closely the highly visible spot on Market Street, one of Philadelphia’s signature boulevards, was being monitored.