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4 dead in N.J. parking garage collapse

The parking garage was under construction in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
The parking garage was under construction in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

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A parking garage under construction at an Atlantic City, New Jersey, casino collapses.
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Casinos and Gambling
Disasters and Accidents
New Jersey

ATLANTIC CITY, New Jersey (CNN) -- Five stories of a parking garage under construction at an Atlantic City casino collapsed Thursday morning, killing four people.

Two people died after being taken to the hospital, and two more were found dead in the rubble, said Michael Schurman, a spokesman for the Atlantic County Office of Emergency Management. All of those killed were construction workers and all of the injured are too.

Of the 21 people hospitalized after the 10:30 a.m. EST collapse of a portion of the Tropicana Casino and Resort parking structure, four are in critical condition, a hospital spokeswoman said.

The body of one of those found in the rubble has been removed, but the other body is in an unstable place and authorities are waiting to shore up the building before removing it, he said.

One man is still trapped in the rubble, but authorities are not sure whether he is alive, Schurman said.

Parts of the building have moved as much as three inches since the collapse, said New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey.

It could take until Friday morning before the structure is secure enough to allow rescuers to get near the victims, said New Jersey State Police Capt. Ed O'Neill.

Rescue workers will install listening devices and cameras overnight, O'Neill said.

"Let's hope that there's a void somewhere, that maybe there's a possible chance that they could be in a void."

McGreevey said he spoke earlier Thursday with a relative of one of the missing.

"She's hoping against hope," he said. "This is as heart-wrenching as it gets."

Preliminary reports indicate that the section of parking deck collapsed when workers were pouring concrete, he said.

A plasterer working on a second floor-scaffold said he heard a big rumble and knew something was wrong.

"And you looked up in the sky, and all we saw was a whole bunch of dust," said Brian Morton. He said he ran through the second floor of the crippled structure toward the collapse and saw three men trapped on one of the landings.

Morton said he was ordered out of the building before he could offer help.

"They didn't know if anything else was going to give way," he said.

The 2,400-space parking lot is part of a construction project to be called The Quarter. It was projected to be completed in March.

The $245 million expansion of the hotel and casino, which is intended to evoke images of Old Havana, Cuba started in April 2002.

Upon completion, the Tropicana will be the largest hotel, the third-largest casino and the only indoor dining/entertainment/retail complex in the city, said Phoenix, Arizona-based Aztar Corp., the complex owner.

A woman who answered the phone at the company said she could not say whether the project would be completed as scheduled. "I cannot tell you anything right now," she said.

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