By Katabella Roberts
At least one person has been killed and five others have been injured after a four-story parking garage partially collapsed in New York City’s Financial District on April 18, Mayor Eric Adams announced.
The upper levels of the garage, which is located at 57 Ann Street between Nassau Street and William Street in Lower Manhattan, collapsed at about 4 p.m.
Images and video footage shared on social media showed what appeared to be a giant hole on the upper level of the parking facility through which many vehicles had fallen through on top of each other. Thick clouds of dust could be seen rising into the air and multiple vehicle horns could be heard beeping loudly.
Speaking at a press conference the day of the collapse, Adams confirmed that one individual had died in the partial collapse but city officials did not identify the victim.
Adams noted that the building is currently extremely unstable and said rescue teams had used robotic dogs and drones to search for other survivors or possible victims after firefighters were forced to pull back.
At the same conference, John Esposito, chief of operations for New York City Fire Department, confirmed that there were six workers in the building at the time of the collapse, four of whom were taken to a local hospital in stable condition.
‘Extremely Dangerous Operation’
He said one worker was trapped on an upper floor, conscious, alert, and moving around while calling for firefighters but was unable to get down. That individual was eventually rescued by firefighters and taken out across the roof to another building where he was bought down safely.
“We have one patient that has died and we have one patient that refused medical attention,” Esposito said. “This was an extremely dangerous operation for our firefighters. We responded to a call of a collapse in the building. We had firefighters inside the building conducting searches. The building was continuing to collapse. We made the decision to remove all our people from the building.”
“Although we continue to make sure that we have everybody accounted for, at this time, we believe that we have the workers that were in danger in the building all accounted for, all out of the building, and that structure is very unstable,” Esposito added.
Esposito added that large concrete slabs from the upper floors of the parking garage had fallen down and crushed parked cars while other vehicles had fallen on top of each other during the partial collapse. He said this is prolonging the rescue and cleanup operation.
Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell noted investigators have no reason to believe the incident was anything other than a structural collapse and no foul play is suspected, but she said officials will continue to investigate the matter, including reviewing and researching the history of the building, its certificate of occupancy, and other records.
Kazimir Vilenchik, acting commissioner for the New York City Department of Buildings, said there are currently some violations on the building dating back to 2003, as well as permits, including one related to the electrical work on the premise.
The Department of Buildings’ online records showed that the structure at the site of the collapse had been cited for 45 violations, including 25 since 2003, many related to its elevators.
One filing from 2003 noted that “ceiling slab cracks exist” as well as “defective concrete with exposed rear cracks.” It said an $800 penalty had been paid for the violation.
Officials confirmed the building has been used as a parking garage since 1957 and is a four-story building with a cellar. Eyewitnesses said the collapse appeared to come out of nowhere.
“It all happened so fast,” said Thai Nguyen, 35, who lives in Chinatown and is a manager of the nearby Kollective Klub. “Our store is two buildings from the parking garage, and we also have a hotel next to us. People ran inside asking if they could take refuge inside our store.”
Another local resident, Sandy Imhoff, 78, said she felt a shudder from the force of the collapse and promptly vacated her home.
“My building was shaking. I only had time to grab my dog and leave the building,” Imhoff said. “I’m really worried about my cats. But at least everyone in my building was able to evacuate. It’s so unreal.”
Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.