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Parking deck collapse in Atlanta leaves 6 workers injured

ATLANTA — A section of concrete on a parking deck under construction in Atlanta partially collapsed on Friday, injuring six workers.

Atlanta Fire Rescue Deputy Chief Glen Riley said firefighters cut out one worker trapped under debris with saws. Video from news outlets showed the worker, who Riley said had leg injuries, being strapped into a basket next to the collapsed section.

Firefighters then communicated with a crane operator using a construction worker’s radio, Riley said, as the worker was lowered to the street. The worker never lost consciousness, he added.

“That was an awesome job,” Riley said.

Other construction workers were injured but managed to walk away from the collapse, Riley told reporters at the scene.

Four workers were taken to hospitals, said Jason Wasulko, a spokesman for Batson-Cook Construction Co., which is building the structure. The six workers were employed by a subcontractor, Wasulko said.

“We are committed to the safety of every employee and trade partner working at our job sites,” Wasulko said in a statement.

A firefighter also was taken to a hospital, with likely heat exhaustion, Riley said.

The collapse involved part of a prefabricated parking deck under construction in Atlanta's Midtown neighbourhood, officials from Atlanta Fire Rescue said in a statement. A column on the 11th floor gave way, causing debris to fall onto the 10th floor. The cause for the collapse is unclear, Wasulko said, adding that engineers were inspecting the structural integrity of the rest of the parking deck. He said there had been no prior problems.

Riley voiced concerns that more of the structure could collapse and fall onto Interstate 75/85, a busy freeway through the heart of the city. Parts of adjoining streets and a ramp to the freeway were closed as a precaution.

“If the wall collapses, it may extend to the expressway,” Riley said.

An inspection was done Friday by Atlanta building inspectors, city spokeswoman Patricia Walden said in an email.

“There is an up-to-date permit in place," she said. “The site is secured and necessary steps are being taken to determine how construction can resume safely."

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration also was sending inspectors to evaluate whether any federal workplace safety rules were violated.

The 3,000-space parking garage is being built at one of Emory University's hospitals just north of downtown Atlanta. It's supposed to be complete next year.

Batson-Cook is owned by Kajima Corp. of Japan. Emory University deferred comment to Batson-Cook.

The garage is part of a major construction push at the hospital, including a new $470 million location for Emory's Winship Cancer Institute, which is going up in a 17-story tower on a parcel separate from the parking garage.

A parking deck five blocks north partially collapsed in 2009, damaging dozens of vehicles but causing no injuries. The owners of that garage later said that a bolt was improperly installed, allowing a beam to pop loose.


AP reporter Jeff Martin contributed from Marietta, Georgia.

Jeff Amy, The Associated Press

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