5 still unaccounted for after apartment building collapses in Iowa

DAVENPORT, Iowa — Five people remain unaccounted for, including two believed to still be in the rubble, after part of a six-story apartment building collapsed Sunday in Iowa.

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Davenport Mayor Mike Matson confirmed the numbers at a news conference Tuesday, two days after authorities responded to a report of the collapse in downtown Davenport. Officials said they believe 53 tenants were living in the building, although they continue to investigate to finalize that number.

No deaths have been confirmed, though relatives of one of the people believed to be trapped in the building, Ryan Hutchinson, said Tuesday that they do not expect that he survived.

In the initial hours after the building collapse, crews pulled seven people from the building and helped a dozen more, Fire Chief Michael Carlsten said. An eighth person, identified as Lisa Brooks, was rescued with injuries on Monday after a secondary search of the building.

“The immediate question that I know people are asking is how did she get there and why wasn’t she found earlier?” Matson said Tuesday. “I am totally transparent with you. I do not know. We do not know. But understand, please, that I and the city is committed to finding out why.”

Authorities rescued Brooks hours after authorities indicated that they planned to start demolishing the rest of the building as early as Tuesday. At a news conference, officials insisted that they planned only to begin staging resources needed to demolish the building, with no plans yet to begin work.

“Demolition plans have continuously been evaluated,” Matson said. Fire Marshal Jim Morris added that the building would have to come down methodically in a process that could take hours or days, and that it continues to pose a risk of coming down on its own.

“That building is unstable, and it continues to worsen as time progresses,” he said.

The 80-unit apartment complex was built in the early 1900s and made of brick and steel. City officials required inspections of its structural integrity twice in recent months after veneer brick began to fall from the building. Repairs were done following a report in January with more work, required by an inspection earlier this month, in progress when the building partially collapsed, officials said.

Following both the January and the May inspections, engineers determined that the building was safe for people to be in as repairs were made, authorities said.

Officials hope to conduct another search of the building, although Morris said it was unclear when or how that might be carried out due to the integrity of the building. Authorities are investigating to determine what caused the collapse and whether any criminal charges could be filed.

“Regardless of what happens, there will be an investigation into how this happened,” Morris said. “There must be.”

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