One dead in Rice University wall collapse

June 19, 2008 9:00:11 PM PDT
One worker was killed and seven others were injured Thursday after several cinder block walls collapsed at a dormitory that was under construction at Rice University, fire department officials said. The collapse happened at around 4 p.m., said Houston Assistant Fire Chief Omero Longoria. Five construction workers were trapped when some of the walls that were being erected for dormitory rooms partially collapsed on the building's second floor.

"We had to dig them out," Longoria said.

One of those in the rubble died and four others were transported to local hospitals. Longoria said he did not immediately know the extent of the injuries of the four workers.

Three other workers received minor injuries after they tried to dig the others out of the rubble, Longoria said. They were treated at the scene.

No other victims were found underneath the rubble after additional searches were conducted by rescue workers.

"We've accounted for all other employees with the construction company," Longoria said.

Rice spokesman B.J. Almond said the cause of the collapse is under investigation.

"There was a lot of severe rain and wind right when this happened," he said.

The building, called McMurtry College, has been under construction since last year with a fall 2009 opening date set. Almond said the 324-bed residential college will be five stories tall.

Longoria said a separate investigation by the contractor and the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration would try to determine an exact cause of the collapse.

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