Rescues search for people unaccounted for after after Iowa apartment collapse


A dire search is underway for unaccounted residents after a massive section of a six-story apartment building collapsed in Iowa Sunday. 

Rescue crews were on scene at the building on Main Street in Davenport Sunday night into Monday frantically digging through the rubble. 

A portion of the building came crashing down around 5pm as panicked residents desperately tried to flee for their lives. 

Seven people were rescued from the building, and 12 were helped from the collapse, officials said. The search is now on for the missing, as an air ambulance arrives on the scene.

Authorities have not said whether anyone was killed in the collapse. 

‘We both grab out cats, she grabbed one, I grabbed one, got to the door,’ Lexus Berry said about trying to get to safety with his wife Quanisha White-Berry. 

‘I watched her, and everything just fell down and everything fell on top of me, and I barely made it out the door.’ 

‘I got out, but there was nothing left but where I was standing at. Everything else was gone.’

Building residents had complained for years about needed repairs. City leaders said the building had permits to make the fixes when the collapse happened.  

Part of a six-story apartment building collapsed in Davenport, iowa, Sunday afternoon

 Part of a six-story apartment building collapsed in Davenport, iowa, Sunday afternoon

Seven people were rescued were from the building, and 12 were helped from the collapse. It is unclear how many are still unaccounted for

Seven people were rescued were from the building, and 12 were helped from the collapse. It is unclear how many are still unaccounted for

Crews have entered the building. Med Force helicopter on scene. Gurney was seen being wheeled over to the building as well.

Posted by KWQC TV6 News on Sunday, May 28, 2023

As the building fell to the ground Sunday evening, Tadd Machavec said he heard screaming.

‘There was a lot of screams, a lot of cries, a lot of people saying “help” when the building came down,’ he told the Associated Press. ‘But that did not last — two or three minutes and then the whole area was silent.

‘I’m hoping and praying the screams that I heard were not people inside of it.’ 

It remains unclear what caused the collapse of the building on Main Street, which was home to about 80 apartments. But fire crews on the scene found a ‘large natural gas leak’ and water leaking from all the floors. 

Robert Robinson lived on the complex’s second floor and just returned from a smoke break outside when part of the building fell. 

‘When we started to go back in the lights went out,’ Robinson. ‘All of a sudden everybody started running out saying the building collapsed. I´m glad we came down when we did.’ 

The extent of the injuries among people who were inside the building when it collapsed is unknown, and those that survived are now scrambling to find overnight accommodations.

First responders say the search for survivors will be challenging, as there have been secondary collapses.

First responders rushed to the scene of the building collapse on Main Street in Davenport

First responders rushed to the scene of the building collapse on Main Street in Davenport

County assessors' records show that nearly 20 permits were filed in 2022 for the building — mostly for plumbing or electrical issues

County assessors’ records show that nearly 20 permits were filed in 2022 for the building — mostly for plumbing or electrical issues 

Officials said there are unaccounted for people, but not how many, as crews search the rubble for missing tenants

Officials said there are unaccounted for people, but not how many, as crews search the rubble for missing tenants

‘Our big thing is the stability of the building. We’re not actually sure how stable the building is,’ Fire Chief Michael Carlsten said. ‘Even while we were on the scene, we did have multiple secondary drops of debris coming from that structure.

‘We want to make sure that all of our first responders are able to process through in a safe manner,’ he continued. ‘But we still want to get through there as quickly as possible.’ 

Mayor Mike Matson also promised to focus on rescue efforts, though he reasserted that the apartment complex is still an active scene.

‘We will continue to work, continue to evaluate, with the whole purpose of trying to find people and trying to get them out,’ he said. 

Several current and former tenants told the Quad City Times that the building had issues in the past.

County assessors’ records show that nearly 20 permits were filed in 2022 for the building — mostly for plumbing or electrical issues. 

Fire crews who arrived at the scene said they found a water leak and a gas leak, though it is unclear whether either of those leaks led to the collapse

Fire crews who arrived at the scene said they found a water leak and a gas leak, though it is unclear whether either of those leaks led to the collapse

Police blocked off the downtown roads around the Davenport apartment building

Police blocked off the downtown roads around the Davenport apartment building

‘Four months ago, I got a call from the city that told me I had 48 hours to get out because the building was being condemned because bricks were just falling off,’ Todd Wilson told the outlet.

‘What they did was they switched ownership and they gave them time to fix it, but they didn’t do it properly.’

Jennifer Smith also said he never had heat or air conditioning. 

‘It sounds bad, but we have been calling the city and giving complaints since December. Our bathroom caved in December,’ she said. ‘We call and report it  and it’s always, “We’ll fix it, we’ll be there” and they don’t.’

She added that 14 units were condemned in January ‘and they were in the back where it caved.’

Many of those residents, Smith said, cannot afford to live anywhere else. 

The building was first opened in 1906, and was the home to the Davenport Hotel, the finest accommodations at the time

Davenport’s director of development and neighborhood services Rich Oswald said the building’s owners had permits to make reports to the exterior bricks before the collapse, according to KWQC. 

There were reports of bricks falling from the building earlier in the week that was part of the work, he said. 

The building was first opened in 1906, and was the home to the Davenport Hotel, the finest accommodations at the time. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, meaning its façade must be maintained.

The building’s owner, Andrew Wold, has yet to comment on the collapse. 

Police and rescue crews remained on scene Sunday night as they asked people to avoid the downtown area. 

The American Red Cross is now assisting tenants with finding accommodations, and Davenport Mayor Matson said he is in contact with Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds who has ‘offered all assistance.’





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