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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Partial Building Collapse in Texas.

Aired December 4, 2002 - 12:08   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LEON HARRIS, CNN: Hello, Leon here at the CNN Center in Atlanta, keeping our eye here on a breaking development in San Antonio -- downtown San Antonio, now at the scene of a building collapse.
You're looking here at some tape that we shot moments ago. We saw at least two people being carried away from that pile of rubble. It is believed that there were at least three who were injured by the falling debris.

It's a building there at the -- near Commerce and Navarro (ph) if you're familiar with downtown San Antonio. And the inside of the building had been gutted for renovation. And for some reason the facade on the rear of the building, which was -- there was attempts -- there were attempts being made to preserve it for historical nature of that area.

However, as you see with the rubble that is behind us -- or underneath these firefighters there -- that facade collapsed and with that collapse at least two people were sucked out into the street and were injured; they've been taken away to the hospital right now. There were concerns that there may have been at least three other people who are still trapped inside. We have no other word on whether or not authorities still believe that to be true.

We saw a little earlier firefighters who were picking thorough the rubble by hand to look for people inside. Let's get the latest now by -- from Alfred Castro, who is -- actually was a -- Alfred, I understand you were a witness to what happened this morning?

ALFRED CASTRO, SAFD COMMUNICATIONS: No sir, I'm not -- I was not a witness.

HARRIS: I'm sorry, I'm sorry; I'm getting my information here confused. Alfred Castro, you are with the Fire Department there in San Antonio, correct?

CASTRO: Yes sir I am.

HARRIS: OK, I'm sorry about the confusion, sir. What can you tell us about right now what you believe is the case on the scene? Do you believe -- still believe -- there are people trapped inside this rubble pile?

CASTRO: At this time, we are not sure. The Fire Department is currently pulling all firefighters away from the scene because of the instability of the structure. They are working on stabilizing some high beams that were holding up this wall that collapsed. And as soon as those high beams are stabilized, the crews will be sent back in to manually remove the debris that is scattered all in front of the building.

HARRIS: So you were concerned about a secondary collapse there on the scene.

CASTRO: Yes sir, they were.

HARRIS: How about the back wall -- or, I'm sorry -- I should say the front wall because what we're looking at is actually the back wall of this building. The front wall from what we could tell -- it was shored up the same way that this back wall was and this back wall has now collapsed. Are you concerned about the other wall of this building collapsing as well?

CASTRO: Yes sir, there are -- they are concerned. That's why all of the crews have been pulled out and they are currently in the process of stabilizing the beams from the wall that collapsed and also stabilizing the rear wall to make it safe for everyone to work there.

HARRIS: How about all the people who were there -- inside when it did collapse. Have they all been accounted for, at least?

CASTRO: Yes sir. It is my understanding that all of the construction workers that were at the scene have been accounted for.

HARRIS: That's good to hear. And we understand from what we could see earlier, there was a bus that was also damaged by some of this debris once it did fall and make its way out to the street. Do you have any information about who may have been on that bus?

CASTRO: No sir we do not.

HARRIS: Very good. Alfred Castro with the San Antonio Fire Department. We'll let you get back to work. You've got a very busy morning and afternoon ahead of you right now. We appreciate your time.

As you can see there, folks, they are still working on hat scene in San Antonio. Right now concerns of a possible -- possible -- secondary collapse if that building is not shored up properly. They're taking care of that right now before they go back inside. So, we'll keep our eye on hat situation and we'll have updates for you throughout the afternoon right here on CNN.

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