VANCOUVER – Crews working at the scene of a partial building collapse in Vancouver recovered the body of a missing male employee on Friday night.
Vancouver Fire and Rescue said in a statement the man was pulled from the debris but declared deceased by paramedics on the scene.
It culminated a 28-hour rescue effort by fire crews, city engineering staff, police, ambulance personnel and Vancouver’s Heavy Urban Search and Rescue crew, a specialized team that responds to major structural collapses,
“Their level of training and skills are what made this recovery possible as expeditiously as it did,” Vancouver Fire said of the collective effort to save the man buried in the debris.
Eight people were rescued from the building Thursday night, hours after the collapse occurred when a bobcat-style loader was moving large piles of soil on the rooftop parking lot when it gave way into the office space below.
Two people were taken to hospital.
The statement says about 90 people were working in the building at the time of the collapse and most of them were able to get themselves out of the building.
“On behalf of our entire department and city, our thoughts are now with the employee’s family, friends and co-workers as they deal with this tragic loss,” the statement said.
A crane was brought in on Thursday to remove giant slabs of cement that had fallen into the building. On Friday, a vacuum truck was used to take away debris and dirt from the site as they tried to find the man.
Trevor Connelly, the assistant deputy chief of operations for Vancouver’s fire department, said earlier Friday the situation was very unstable and dangerous.
The work was painstaking, physical and tiring, he said.
He said search crews were fairly confident the man was buried in the rubble based on eyewitness reports and the location of his cellphone.
Two search dogs that were brought to the scene were able to identify areas where crews might concentrate their search, he said.
The building is situated between Metro Vancouver’s SkyTrain Line and the Lougheed Highway, which was partially shutdown to traffic for the duration of the search.
The SkyTrain continued to operate.
A view from the SkyTrain showed the large hole in the roof, with piles of debris below spilling out onto the building’s parking lot.
Three cars parked at the front of the office location were covered in building material, crumpled siding and cement.
The fire department says the scene will now be turned over to WorkSafeBC, the provincial worker safety agency, and the Vancouver police to investigate the cause of the collapse.
WorkSafe has already said it has launched an investigation into the collapse.
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