Bridgeport, CT Plaza Building Collapse, Apr 1987
9 DEAD, 19 MISSING IN BUILDING COLLAPSE.
Bridgeport, Conn. (UPI) -- Searchers reported "no sign of life" today as they pulled bodies from a labyrinth of concrete and steel created by the collapse of an apartment building under construction that killed nine workers and left 19 misssing and presumed buried.
Under the eerie glare of spotlights, six huge cranes picked through a pile of rubble two stories high early today as the grim-faced rescue workers used police dogs and ultrasound listening devices in hopes of hearing a muffled cry for help at the site of the L'Ambiance Plaza project.
"I'm not an optimist," Mayor Thomas Bucci said. "There is not a bright prospect we will be soon in locating a significant number of survivors alive. There is no sign of life. The chances of finding anybody is very minimal."
But he added, "We haven't given up hope. We're hoping there are pockets within the destruction in which survivors are located."
During one anxious moment at 2 a.m., workers said they thought they heard tapping sounds coming from the rubble. Crews silenced the heavy machinery, quieted a crowd of 50 spectators gathered across the street from the scene and donned sensitive listening devices.
Using earphones and stethescopes workers probed one of the largest piles of rubble for about 20 minutes without success before restarting the cranes and other rescue vehicles.
Later, two men suspended in a basket by a crane delicately cut and removed a large section of steel girder near the spot where the tapping was heard.
As the night wore on, more family and friends of those believed trapped gathered at the scene.
"He's dead, he's dead," sobbed one woman as others in the crowd tried to comfort her.
Officials said they did not know what caused the collapse Thursday as workers were using the "lift-slab" method, in which cement slabs used for floors are cast on the ground and then hoisted into position on vertical steel columns.
Six floors of the building had been framed, and witnesses said workers were lifting four slabs when the top slab slipped at about 1:45 p.m., triggering an inward collapse that twisted steel and scattered rubble over an area the size of a city block.
"I was sitting in my car and all of a sudden it sounded like a bomb," said construction worker Jim Beau, who was eating lunch at the time.
Bucci said, "It reminded me of Beirut, Lebanon."
Two workers died at hospitals, and were identified as SCOTT WARD, 17, of Fairfield and DONALD EMMANUEL, 48, of Waterbury. Twelve persons were injured.
About midnight, Bucci said at the scene that seven bodies had been found and were presumed, but not officially declared, dead. Workers began removing the bodies early today as medical examiners stood by.
The mayor said 19 people were unaccounted for and presumed buried in the collapse, "and efforts are being taken to locate them." Bucci said 43 of the 71 people believed to have been at the site were alive and accounted for, including the injured.
Officials said their best hope was that falling concrete slabs had created pockets for survivors. At one point in the search workers said they heard occasional faint cries as they scampered over the rubble.
More than 200 people, including volunteer ironworkers from around the state, climbed gingerly over the unstable mounds of debris. During the night, sparks from torches flashed, more brilliant than the stark floodlights.
Tyrone Daily Herald Pennsylvania 1987-04-24
The casualties were:
HERBERT GOELDNER, JR.
JOHN PUSKAR, JR.