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Woman pulled from rubble 13 hours after Philadelphia building collapse; 6 dead

A woman was found alive in the rubble 13 hours after a building collapsed in Center City and killed at least six people.

The collapse at 2140 Market Street happened around 10:40 a.m. when a four-story building came down on top of a two-story building, which housed a Salvation Army Thrift Store. Early reports from Philadelphia Police indicate that the collapse may have been the result of an industrial accident, as construction crews were working on the nearby structure.

NBC Philadelphia: Philly building collapse: 6 dead, search continues

One woman was found dead and 13 people were rescued from the rubble during the day. Crews continued to dig with the help of search dogs to see if anyone else remained trapped beneath the rubble. They found five more bodies in the rubble Wednesday night but have not yet revealed their identities.

Crews also found 61-year-old Myra Plekam alive in the rubble around 11:30 p.m., making her the 14th person rescued. She was taken to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania where she is in stable condition.

Mayor Nutter said the woman who died was 35 years old and that her family didn't want any more information about her to be discussed publicly. Sources close to the investigation say the woman was a cashier at the thrift store and that Wednesday was her first day on the job.

"I ask all Philadelphians and all who care to keep that Philadelphia woman and her family in your prayers," Nutter said.

One of the victims rescued during the day, a woman, was found after being buried for two hours, according to Mayor Michael Nutter. She was able to walk and was waving and alert when paramedics took her away on a gurney.

Four hours into the rescue effort, Ayers brought in new rescue members and two search dogs. He said they were setting up to continue work for the next 12 to 24 hours.

"This is still an active search and rescue scene," he said.

Wednesday night, Mayor Nutter confirmed that five more people were found dead in the rubble. Accorrding to officials, all six victims were inside the store at the time of the collapse.

Nutter said the search is still active and will continue until crews are absolutely certain no one else is inside the rubble.

Fire Commissioner Ayers said in a late afternoon news conference that rescuers were focusing their search on a few areas that the search dogs were hovering over. But rescuers are not sure exactly what that means because Ayers said some of those areas are also where earlier rescues took place and that may be what the dogs are picking up.

According to Ayers, 125 people were working to locate survivors and they were using 35 different pieces of equipment in the search.

"There are firemen, police, construction guys digging out, because I believe people are down there," said Corey Vey who works nearby. "It's crazy right now."

Thirteen of those rescued were taken to local hospitals. Most of the injuries are minor. The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania treated five of the 13 victims. A spokeswoman from the hospital says all five are in stable condition. Two of those victims have been released while the other three will stay overnight for observation.

Rescue crews could be seen digging through the debris and have brought in at least two pieces of  heavy machinery to help move debris.

"I've never encountered anything like this before anytime in my life, and I don't want to see it again,"  said Vey, who was driving down 22nd Street right before Market and saw the building come down. "I feel really lucky. That brick landed in my passenger seat. Lucky for the rainguard on my window that saved me from getting hit."

Ordinary people took part in the rescue efforts as well. Roofers from a nearby building hustled over after the collapse and started pulling people out of the basement.

"They were pretty banged up," one of the roofers said.

The Salvation Army sent its own disaster response team to the site to help survivors and first responders. The organization sent out a statement saying, "Our number one concern is for the safety of our customers and the employees who were involved."

Market Street is closed from 18th to 30th Street right now.

Fire officials say the building next door to the collapse was under demolition. According to the demolition permit from Philadelphia's Licenses and Inspections, that building was a four-story structure. The demolition contractor is Griffin-Campbell Construction.

A man, who did not want to be identified, recorded video of the demolition of the building on Sunday and sent it to NBC10.com.

OSHA officials said they were aware of the incident and would be launching an investigation. The Department of Labor is also investigating.