PHILADELPHIA – A building that was being torn down collapsed with a thunderous boom Wednesday, raining bricks on a neighboring thrift store, killing six people and injuring at least 13 others.
A somber Mayor Michael Nutter said those who died were one man and five women but authorities still didn’t know how many people had been in the store or on the sidewalk when the accident happened.
Early reports had been that one woman had died in the Wednesday morning accident, but rescuers using buckets and their bare hands to move bricks and rubble kept working through the evening, removing body bags at night.
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.
There were no existing violations on the building and the demolition company had proper permits for the work they were doing, according to Carlton Williams, of the city’s Department of Licenses and Inspections.