At least two people were missing and the whereabouts of three more were unknown after rescue efforts were made to pull out survivors at an apartment building that partially collapsed in eastern Iowa over the weekend, officials said on Wednesday
More than a dozen people were initially escorted out of the six-storey building when part of it collapsed in Davenport on Sunday afternoon, and seven others were rescued in the first hour of a search, Chief Michael Carlsten of the Davenport Fire Department, said at a news conference on Tuesday. An eighth person was found in a secondary search, he said, and a ninth on Monday night.
Mayor Mike Matson said that five people were still missing on Tuesday morning, including two who were thought to still be in the building. Officials did not specify where the three other people could be. There have been no reported fatalities. The cause of the collapse was still under investigation.
Dozens of people protested outside the building on Tuesday morning amid concerns that the structure would be demolished before the missing people were found.
Officials said that they were trying to find them while also trying to keep emergency medical workers safe because the building could collapse at any time.
Davenport’s fire marshal, James Morris, became emotional as he talked about how two people could still be inside the unstable building.
“It’s extremely difficult when you can’t run up to a pile of bricks and rocks, and just start throwing things off,” he said. “As much as we want to. We want to get everyone out and we want to do it right now.”
Officials said they were constantly evaluating whether the building would need to come down in a controlled demolition and how to make the area safe for another search by emergency medical workers.
On Monday, after city officials said at a news conference that they did not know of any remaining people in the building, a woman was found alive later that day. She had been hiding under a couch in a portion of the building that appeared to still be intact, according to NBC News.
The mayor said on Monday that firefighters and emergency medical workers saved lives by rushing into the building, which has 84 residential and commercial units.
Firefighters discovered a large natural gas leak and a water leak at the building, but the cause of the collapse was not immediately known, Chief Carlsten said on Monday.
Rich Oswald, the city’s director of development and neighborhood services, said at the news conference on Tuesday that a structural engineer had provided a report to the city in January and last week to show that the building was “structurally sound.”