(PHILADELPHIA) — Philadelphia officials are facing questions over whether the building collapse that killed six people on Wednesday could have been prevented.
Mayor Michael Nutter and the city’s commissioner of licenses and inspections, Carlton Williams, said Thursday that they did not follow up on complaints about the working conditions at the Center City demolition site where a four-story building toppled over Wednesday.
City officials said that a routine inspection had found no violations at the property before demolition began. Williams said that inspectors had visited an adjoining property in May after complaints were lodged, but they found no violations and did not return to the Market Street site again before Wednesday.
“No subsequent inspection occurred to indicate there was any unsafe conditions,” Williams said. “We did not follow up and we are definitely looking into that.”
Nutter promised a “wide-ranging inspection” into how and why the building collapsed.
“We are 24 hours into the incident, and we have a lot of work to do into why it happened and how did it happen, and going forward how to prevent it from happening anywhere else in the city,” Nutter said Thursday.
Nutter and Williams made their statements in response to questions from reporters about a slew of complaints and 311 calls that had reportedly been made to the city about the unsafe conditions at the site in the weeks leading up to the collapse.
At least 20 people were caught in falling debris when the building collapsed Wednesday around 10:45 a.m. An outer wall of the building that was being demolished fell outward and onto a two-story building next door that housed a Salvation Army Thrift Shop, according to city officials.
Fourteen individuals were treated for injuries, most of which were minor, according to hospital officials. Six individuals had already died by the time rescuers found them in the rubble.
On Wednesday, Williams and Nutter said that the building had up-to-date permits for the demolition, noting that both the owner and construction company had their paperwork in order.
The property’s owner, STB Investments of New York City, released a statement Wednesday expressing sympathy for the victims.
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Laura Smith-Spark and Jose Manuel Rodriguez, CNN
Patrick Gillespie, CNN
Rafael Romo and Emanuella Grinberg, CNN
Nate Eaton, EastIdahoNews.com