DAVENPORT, Iowa (AP) — There were no confirmed fatalities and no known people were still trapped the morning after the partial collapse of a six-story apartment building in the eastern city of Davenport, Iowa, authorities said Monday.
Davenport Fire Chief Michael Carlsten told a news conference Monday that workers searched throughout the night for survivors and rescued one person from the six-story building – bringing the total number of people rescued by the fire department to eight. Another 12 people were evacuated by firefighters as they first responded to the collapse Sunday night.
“No known individuals are being held at this facility,” Carlsten said. Authorities have not announced how many people were injured or the nature of their injuries. Carlsten said the person who was rescued overnight was in the hospital.
Rescue teams, including K-9 units, were in the building throughout the night.
“When something like this happens here and tragedy strikes, our emergency responders immediately do their job and do their job and I can’t thank them enough,” said Davenport Mayor Mike Matson.
Rescuers were called to the scene of the accident shortly before 5 p.m. on Sunday. Carlsten said the back of the apartment complex collapsed, separating from the building, which has apartments on the upper floors and shops on the ground floors.
Authorities found a gas leak after the collapse, Carlsten said, and water leaked through the building’s floors.
The stability of the building was still an issue.
Carlsten said officers are “currently concluding the rescue phase of our operation and a salvage operation will occur soon.”
The cause of the collapse was initially unknown.
Rich Oswald, director of development and neighborhood services for the City of Davenport, said at a news conference Sunday that work was being done on the building’s exterior at the time of the collapse.
Reports of bricks falling from the building earlier this week were part of that work and the building’s owner had permission for the project, Oswald said.
The Quad City Times reported that Robert Robinson, a second-floor resident, went outside and returned when an alarm went off in the building.
“As we made our way back, the lights went out,” he told the newspaper. “Suddenly everyone ran out and said the building had collapsed. I’m glad we came down when we made it.”
Robinson and his girlfriend made it down the elevator just in time, he said.
“It’s terrible,” he said. “We have nowhere to go. Nothing to eat.”
Tadd Machovec, a Davenport contractor, told the newspaper he was in the process of putting up a support beam when the building collapsed.
Some people in the area said the building had problems. City officials said Sunday they had received several complaints from residents about needed repairs.
“The tenants told us the building was going to collapse,” said Jennifer Smith, co-owner of Fourth Street Nutrition, who moved into the building this winter.
“It sounds bad, but we’ve been calling the city and filing complaints since December. “Our bathroom collapsed in December,” she said.
Smith said water damage has been evident since they moved into their premises. Her co-owner Deonte Mack said the fire department was only in the building on Thursday for an inspection.
The Quad-City Times reported that the building is owned by Andrew Wold. A working phone number for Wold was not immediately available Sunday night and attempts to reach him for comment have been unsuccessful.
The newspaper reported that nearly 20 building repair permits were filed in 2022, mostly for plumbing or electrical issues, according to the county surveyor’s office.
There are 84 units in the building, a mix of residential and commercial space, the mayor said.
In June 2021, 98 people died if a high-rise condominium near Miami Beach collapsed in the middle of the night.
The Champlain Towers South had a long history of maintenance problems and inferior construction techniques were employed in the early 1980s. Other possible factors in the collapse include rising sea levels caused by climate change and damage from saltwater intrusion.