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Search resumes at collapsed Ga. parking deck

Atlanta Parking Deck Collaspe
Firefighters examine damaged vehicles in a collapsed downtown parking garage in the Midtown district of Atlanta on Monday.John Bazemore / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

Emergency workers were using dogs, listening devices and thermal cameras to search through rubble of a collapsed parking garage Tuesday, a day after the deck collapsed from the fourth floor to the first level.

Remarkably, no injuries were reported and there were no missing people. But rescuers said they still had not finished searching through the wreckage.

"At this point, we still haven't found any signs of any victims," Atlanta Fire and Rescue spokesman Bobby Stewart said. "We are going to search every corner, every confined space, every vehicle to make sure no victim is left behind."

The search stalled during the night when the building shifted. It took fire crews several hours to shore up the building. At least 38 cars were caught in the collapse.

Like a building 'being demolished'
The deck collapsed around lunchtime Monday in the busy commercial district of Midtown. More than 50 firefighters rushed to the scene and the bottom level was a "huge mess of vehicles and concrete," Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran said.

Shaun Dodson was eating lunch in his truck at the far side of the building when he felt the ground shake and heard a sound like a building "being demolished."

"I ran around, saw a hole and thought the building was collapsing," Dodson said. "I'm eating lunch from now on in my office."

Cause of collapse unknown
What caused the 7-year-old structure to collapse was not immediately known. Atlanta-based Hardin Construction, the general contractor on the deck, was one of three companies that was working at the Atlanta Botanical Garden when a pedestrian bridge collapsed in December, killing one worker and injuring 18.

Hardin Construction spokeswoman Barkley Russell confirmed the company was the general contractor on the deck and surrounding office complex. She said the majority of the deck work was done by subcontractor Metromont Corp., based in Greenville, S.C.

There are 1,415 spaces and about 35 were affected, Russell said in a statement.

"We are just thankful at this point there are no reports of injuries," Russell said.

Russell directed questions about how the deck was designed to Metromont Corp., which did not immediately return a call for comment.

Earlier this month, Hardin was fined $6,300 by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration in the Botanical Garden bridge collapse. The agency's report concluded Hardin and another company placed two support towers too far apart, which may have caused the collapse. The company is appealing.

The parking deck was last inspected at the time it was built and cleared for occupancy in 2002, said Catherine Woodling, spokeswoman for Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin. It has not had any code violations since, Woodling said.