It was a horrifying scene in New York City on Tuesday: At least one person died and multiple others were injured after a parking garage collapsed in Lower Manhattan.
Officials said Wednesday that initial findings indicate the age of the building, as well as the number of vehicles parked on the roof deck, contributed to the disaster. However, the investigation continues.
A group of people in a building near the parking garage recorded a video that showed dozens of cars piled on top of each other, as rubble piled up from the collapsed floors.
Other videos online showed upset bystanders calling emergency teams for help. One social media image showed two women running out of the building, saying they were inside when it crumbled.
The New York City Fire Department said six workers were in the building at the time of the collapse.
"Four of them have been transported to the hospital in stable condition. We have one patient that has died, and we have one patient that refused medical attention," said John Esposito, New York City Fire Department Chief of Operations.
"There was a large noise and a big rumbling," said Pace University student Liam Gaeta.
Gaeta and others were forced to evacuate two nearby Pace University buildings.
"Everything collapsed — all debris, smoke, cars were sinking. It looked like it was out of a movie and it was horrible," said Pace University student Sophia Vuksanaj.
The incident prompted university officials to cancel in-person classes in one of its buildings on Tuesday. Wednesday staff and students shifted to remote learning.
"It was just heartbreaking. We heard screams. I didn't know where it was coming from at first," added Vuksanaj.
According to fire department officials, the second floor of the five-story parking garage collapsed onto the first floor. Eventually, the top floor crumbled, falling all the way down into the cellar, leading to a full-on pancake collapse.
"This was an extremely dangerous operation for our firefighters," said Esposito.
Emergency crews determined the building was not safe for first responders.
"The building was continuing to collapse. We made the decision to remove all our people from the building," added Esposito.
The rescue team had to turn to sophisticated technology to resume operations.
"Thank God we had the robotic dog that was able to go in the building. This is ideally what we talk about, not sending a human being inside a building that's unstable," New York City Mayor Eric Adams said.
A drone was also used to search through the debris.
"This is going to take a while to make it safe for the public. There's going to be rigs and equipment out here, probably, for days," Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine said.
The New York City Department of Buildings confirmed the property had four open violations, but cannot verify if any of them contributed to the collapse.
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