Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Rachel Sharp

Iowa officials finally admit that up to five residents are still missing following building collapse

Photos by Joseph Cress; Iowa City Press-Citizen, part of the USA TODAY NETWORK

Officials in Iowa have finally admitted that up to five residents are still missing following the collapse of a six-story apartment building – after previously claiming there were no credible reports of missing people and making plans to demolish the block while people could still be trapped inside.

Davenport Mayor Mike Matson said at a press conference on Tuesday that five people are still unaccounted for, including two who are believed to still be in the partially collapsed building.

“The Davenport Police Department has been working diligently to account for the [residents] of the building,” he said.

“Five individuals are still unaccounted for, two of those we believe to possibly be still in the building.”

The identities of the missing have not been released but the revelation comes after desperate neighbours, locals and loved ones have been trying to raise the alarm about two men thought to be in the building at the time of the collapse.

Branden Colvin and Ryan Hitchcock have not been seen since the building suddenly collapsed at around 5pm on Sunday.

Despite their whereabouts being unknown, officials had called off rescue efforts just 24 hours later on Monday – and then planned to demolish the building.

Residents protested the demolition plans – fearing that residents could still be trapped inside – and, for now, the city appears to have put them on hold.

The city announced in a press release on Tuesday morning that it was “continually evaluating the timing of the demolition” of the building.

“Demolition is a multi-phase process that includes permitting and staging of equipment that will begin today,” the city said.

“The timing of the physical demolition of the property is still be(ing) evaluated. The building remains structurally insecure and in imminent danger of collapse.”

The delay came after a ninth person was rescued from the rubble on Monday afternoon – after officials had already said the rescue mission had moved to a “recovery operation”.

Lisa Brooks was pulled to safety from the fourth floor of the building after she managed to call her daughter who then alerted authorities to her mother’s whereabouts.

The partly collapsed building in Davenport, Iowa (Quad City Times)

Dramatic footage captured firefighters rescuing her with a bucket ladder before she was taken to hospital for evaluation.

Ms Brooks’ great-granddaughter Pauletta Joeanna told The Independent on Monday evening that her great-grandmother lived in apartment 403 in the building and was on the phone with another relative when she seemed to suddenly hang up.

That was the same time that the building collapsed.

Ms Joeanna told The Independent on Tuesday that her great-grandmother heard people yelling her name.

“She’s at home, she’s fine now. She had passed out under the couch and the only reason she woke up it’s because we were yelling her name. Now we’re looking for Branden,” she said.

Indeed, Ms Brooks’ rescue has led to growing calls from locals not to pull the building down until further searches are carried out for those still missing.

Local officials say they need to pull the building down due to its instability, making it unsafe for the wider public.

“The necessity to demolish this building stems specifically from our desire to maintain as much safety for the surrounding areas as possible,” Rich Oswald, the director of development and neighborhood services in Davenport, told CNN.

It is not yet clear what caused the back of the apartment building, known as The Davenport, to detach from the rest of the building and lead to Sunday’s collapse.

However, residents had filed numerous complaints about issues with the building – and several current and former tenants are speaking out about cracks and structural issues in the lead-up to the disaster.

One former resident shared shocking photos on TikTok revealing how huge cracks were developing in the walls.

Aurea Monet lived in a studio in the six-storey apartment building for around seven months, moving out just eight weeks before the block partially collapsed on Sunday.

Protesters outside the collapsed building on Tuesday (Photos by Joseph Cress; Iowa City Press-Citizen, part of the USA TODAY NETWORK)

In a series of TikTok videos, she says that she broke the lease on the rental unit and moved out after noticing huge cracks on both the inside and outside walls of her apartment.

The cracks started to develop after construction work began on the property, she says.

In the video, Ms Monet says “they started construction a while back and during that time I noticed a crack above my outlet”.

She says it was “much smaller at first” but then the crack “progressed over my time being there”.

Last year, almost 20 permits were filed, mainly for plumbing or electrical issues, according to the Associated Press.

The last permit for the building was filed on 2 March 2 and had “misc” listed in the description.

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.