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Parking garage collapses in NYC

By HENG WEILI in New York | China Daily Global | Updated: 2023-04-19 11:20
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One person was killed and five injured when a parking garage collapsed Tuesday afternoon in Lower Manhattan. A robotic dog and drones were used in the rescue effort.

Cars were crushed as concrete floors pancaked, officials said. Vehicles tumbled into what looked like a stream of sedans and SUVs.

"It felt like an earthquake," said Liam Gaeta, a student at nearby Pace University, which canceled classes for the remainder of the day.

One vehicle landed on its end at the entrance of the four-story garage at 35-37 Ann Street, a photo posted by Mayor Eric Adams' office showed.

Authorities believed they had accounted for everyone, but searches continued Tuesday evening to make sure no one was in any of the wrecked cars, Fire Department Chief of Operations John Esposito said.

"We're continuing to do searches. There are some cars in there that are crushed. We're trying to see if we can get up close to make sure there's nobody in those cars," Esposito added.

One garage employee was rescued via a neighboring roof after being trapped on an upper floor, he said.

"He was conscious and alert and moving around, calling us. He just couldn't get down," Esposito said.

Four of the injured were hospitalized and in stable condition, and the fifth refused medical attention, he said.

The garage — a few blocks from City Hall and the Brooklyn Bridge and about a half- mile (0.8 km) from the New York Stock Exchange — caved in around 4 pm.

City Buildings Department records show the structure has been a garage at least since the 1920s, and there were no recent permits for construction.

The collapse left the building "completely unstable", Adams said at a news conference.

Esposito said firefighters had to withdraw because of the danger, conducting searches with a drone and robotic dog.

"Thank God we had the robotic dog that was able to go in the building," Adams said. "This is ideally what we talk about not sending a human being inside a building as unstable."

The building was "all the way pancaked, collapsed all the way to the cellar floor", acting Buildings Commissioner Kazimir Vilenchik said.

William Flashnick, 19, was in a Pace classroom when he and his friends thought they heard an explosion and ran to a window to look. One of his first thoughts was of the 2001 World Trade Center attack, which looms over the neighborhood.

"We freaked out. Given the history of this place, it's a little scary," he said.

The building had active violations dating back to 2003, Vilenchik said. There were also active permits on the building, one of which was related to electrical work, but the building was not under construction.

The New York City Sheriff's Office had four vehicles parked in the deck.

"We accounted for all our personnel," Sheriff Anthony Miranda told the New York Post.

Ariel Stern, 32, of Manhattan, a building manager who works about a block away on Ann Street said that her car was in the garage, she told The New York Times.

"I usually leave work around 4:30 or 5 pm," she said. "I'm thankful I was caught up today and I didn't go in (the garage at that time)."

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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