CHESTER, Va. – Authorities found a body Wednesday in the rubble of a partially built retail and residential building that collapsed in a Richmond suburb.
Emergency crews found the body about six hours after the collapse and continued to search for anyone else who might have been trapped.
Chesterfield County Fire Lt. Matt Coffin said 911 dispatchers received reports that up to a dozen workers were inside when a 60-foot-section came crashing down around noon, though only one was unaccounted for by later in the day. Coffin did not know if the body was that worker's.
"We don't really know how many people we had in there," Coffin said. "We're going to work in a rescue mode for 48 hours because we need to make sure there's nobody else inside."
Emergency workers were attempting to stabilize the rubble. They brought in sound-sensitive equipment to detect any movements in the collapsed building while they attempt to shore it up. Some rescuers asked people on the scene to be quiet so they could listen to see if any noises were coming from the building.
Late in the afternoon, a dozen rescue workers with a stretcher entered the rear of the building, which had not fully collapsed.
Robin Kuhn, owner of Old Time Concrete, said his company poured the foundation and footings for building, which is nearly 80 percent complete.
Kuhn said his workers were scheduled to be at the site around the time of the collapse but were not there because they were working on the other side.
"I have a God that put us in the right place at the right time," Kuhn said.
Cindy Martin, who works across the street at Cotas Barber Shop, said she heard a loud noise and saw the building come down and people running out.
"It's only the grace of God them other guys got out," Martin said.
It wasn't clear what caused the collapse. The two-story wood structure is part of Chester Village Green, a mixed used development in Chester. The community is about 15 miles south of Richmond.