Search & Rescue Operations End At Building Collapse Scene - FOX 13 News

Search & Rescue Operations End At Building Collapse Scene

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PHILADELPHIA -

Fire department officials say a search and rescue operation ended Thursday afternoon at the scene of the deadly collapse that killed six people in Center City.

Rescuers are now turning over the site to the fire marshal, police and the city's Department of Licenses and Inspections as multiple investigations continue at the scene.

The city released the identities of all the victims who were killed or injured when the four-story structure toppled over onto a Salvation Army Thrift Shop at 22nd and Market streets at 10:43 a.m.

"Today, we mourn the loss of six Philadelphians who perished in the terrible tragedy at 22nd and Market streets on Wednesday. Our deepest condolences go out to the families and friends of the deceased," Mayor Michael Nutter said in a news release. "I ask all Philadelphians to remember those who perished and their families in their prayers and thoughts."

Crews worked through the day, night and again until 4:30 p.m. Thursday, searching with urban search and rescue dogs, acoustic equipment, a large crane and more. The FBI also assisted at the scene.

Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers said Thursday's search focused on portion of the thrift store that remains standing and the area near a southern wall that officials were concerned could still fall.

Ayers said he's proud of the efforts of rescuers, and said the searchers were saying a lot of prayers as they dug through the rubble.

The fire commissioner highlighted the work of a new paramedic, on the job for less than six months, who was on duty during the collapse and was able to rescue four people.

The perimeter for the scene has been further reduced to between 21st and 23rd streets and Market to Arch streets, with 22nd Street remaining closed from Chestnut to Arch.

The mass transit system has been checked, Nutter said earlier in the day. There are no issues, but SEPTA has coordinated with the fire department to reduce the speed of the trolleys and trains under the area. The speed reduction was expected to be lifted by the afternoon.

One woman was pulled alive from the rubble around midnight. She has been identified as 61-year-old Myra Plekham, and she's reported to be in critical condition at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

Most of the other victims are on the mend. For example, three patients kept overnight at HUP for observation were discharged Thursday, like two others who went home Wednesday night.

It wasn't just firefighters and police officers who leapt into action when the building came down.

Some Good Samaritans made split-second decisions to risk their own lives when the building came down.

One was a high school student on his way to a dentist appointment that he never made. Construction workers and passersby also joined the first-responders in digging through all of that debris to search for survivors.

SkyFOX was overhead as crews pulled at least three people to safety.

Some more of the most incredible images we've seen coming out of this building collapse have been witnesses capturing the moments just after the roof and walls came down.

New video Wednesday night came from a roofing crew that rushed toward the dust cloud from their jobsite nearby. It shows cars just standing still at the edge of the rubble and people moving in to help those who were trapped.

There were more pictures sent to us by people watching the rescue effort and the destruction they saw.

Witnesses say, at first, the scene reminded them of the footage from 9/11.

We're also learning about the history of this doomed building. You may be shocked to find out who the owner is. He's actually known as the "porn king."

Court documents obtained by FOX 29 News show the contractor managing the demolition has a criminal record. L&I Commissioner Carlton Williams said that there was an inspection of 2134 Market on May 14, but there were no indications of unsafe conditions.

And police confirm that they have obtained a blood sample from the operator of a back hoe that eyewitnesses tell FOX 29 hit the building just before it came down. Taking blood is standard practice as part of an investigation like this, they say.

The Occupational, Safety and Health Administration is probing the incident, as is the city's Department of Licenses and Inspections.

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