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1 dead, 5 more injured in NY parking garage collapse

By Elizabeth Delaney
|
April 20, 2023

A parking garage collapsed in New York on Tuesday caused one person's death and injured five others in lower Manhattan's financial district on Ann street.

New York Fire Department employees were on the scene in minutes when the garage collapsed just after 4pm, according to New York Daily News.

The building was a four-story garage that had sedans and SUVs filling the top floor when the structure buckled and sent them tumbling into a pile of rubble, according to the AP.

Several parking attendants were injured and one was killed. Four of the injured attendants were taken to the hospital, but one refused medical treatment, according to Fox 5 New York.

The body of the man who was killed was trapped in rubble and later removed on Wednesday. He was identified as 59-year-old parking garage manager Willis Moore, according to WABC.

Firefighters search for additional victims

Firefighters started conducting a search to make certain there weren't any victims in the vehicles, but the building was deemed too unstable for them to go inside. A robotic dog and drone were used to continue search efforts instead. So far, it's believed no occupants are in any of the vehicles.

"This was an extremely dangerous operation for our firefighters," FDNY Chief James Esposito told Fox 5 New York at the scene. "The building was continuing to collapse. We made the decision to pull all of our people from the building."

He later commented at a press conference that, "A couple of floors of the concrete slab floors collapsed, crushed some of the cars that are inside,"according to New York Daily News.

"It was a pancake collapse all the way to the cellar floor," New York Buildings Commissioner Kazimir Vilenchik  also spoke during the press conference. "We are going to continuously review and research property profiles to understand the history of the building, certificate of occupancy, and all other records."

Multiple unaddressed building code violations suspected as contributing to garage collapse

While information about the cause of the collapse has not been made official, the city has records on file that indicate that the building owners paid fines on various code violations, but there isn't a record showing that any of those items were fixed.

Some of the infractions include "failure to maintain [building] hazardous," as well as "first floor ceiling slab cracks, missing concrete covering steel beams" and "defective concrete with exposed rear cracks," according to New York Daily News.

Perhaps the only possible warning hinting at the seriousness of the situation was when the building facade buckled on Tuesday and very nearly collapsed into the street.

Cleanup process for the disaster will be complex

"Right now, we're transitioning to how we safely take down that building, and it's incredibly complex," said NYC Emergency Management Commissioner Zachary Iscol told WABC.

"There's over 50 cars on the roof. The building is not structurally sound. You think about hazardous materials that are in the garage, right? Gas tanks, fluids-further complicated by the fact that there are possibly some electric vehicles in that garage. So there's a remarkable operation that is going that is starting now," he added.

Contractors have removed a large part of the front of the building as well as several cars individually from the front of the building, This process is expected to be ongoing throughout Wednesday and for several days or perhaps weeks, according to WABC.

Power has been cut to the building and the New York Fire Department is taking steps to make sure that gas tanks, electric car batteries and other possible hazards don't complicate matters by causing a fire.

The air quality is also being monitored by The Department of Environment Protection to make sure that any pollution remains below city and state limits.

Residents near the site have been asked to leave the area and the American Red Cross is offering them immediate relocation assistance.