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Partially collapsed apartment building set to be demolished in Iowa amid protests

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(DAVENPORT, Iowa) — A partially collapsed apartment building is set to be demolished in eastern Iowa on Tuesday morning, despite calls for a delay from members of the community who say their loved ones are still missing.

A six-story building partially collapsed on Sunday afternoon in Davenport, a city in Iowa’s Scott County located along the Mississippi River. The building housed a total of 84 apartments between residential and commercial, according to Davenport Mayor Mike Matson and Davenport Fire Chief Michael Carlsten. The cause of the collapse was unknown and remains under investigation.

More than a dozen people evacuated the building at the time of the collapse, while nine others were rescued in the hours afterward. The eighth victim was extracted from the site late Sunday and transported to a hospital in unknown condition, Matson and Carlsten said at a press conference on Monday morning. At that time, no deaths had been confirmed and there was no credible information that anyone is missing.

Local ABC affiliate WQAD-TV was at the scene when the ninth victim was extracted late Monday. A large crowd of people were gathered at the site, calling for “accountability” and pleading with officials not to demolish the structure because they believe more survivors could be inside.

Over 150 personnel have taken part in the “extensive rescue operations,” using thermal imaging, drones and a team of service dogs in an attempt to locate victims within the structure, according to a press release from the Davenport city government. As of Monday night, crews had found “no confirmed viable signs of life,” the city said.

The city hired an independent and certified structural engineer to evaluate the structural integrity of the building. The engineer determined that the building is “in imminent danger of collapse with the condition on site continuing to worsen,” the city said. Officials are working with a local contractor on a plan to safely dismantle and demolish the remaining structure.

A notice and order for demolition has been served to the owner of the property. Demolition is expected to begin Tuesday morning. Due to the unstable condition, residents will not be allowed back into the building prior to demolition, according to the city.

“With the current structure in imminent danger of collapse, the necessity to demolish this building stems specifically from our desire to maintain as much safety for the surrounding areas as possible,” Rich Oswald, director of the City of Davenport’s Development and Neighborhood Services, said in a statement late Monday. “We appreciate the expertise of the professionals collaborating on site to determine the best way to do this.”

Meanwhile, the Davenport Police Department has been working to make contact with and account for all individuals known to be residents in the building at the time of the collapse, according to the city.

Members of the community organized a demonstration at the scene to protest the planned demolition on Tuesday morning.

Johnnie Woods told ABC News that her nephew, Branden Colvin, is a resident of the building and remains unaccounted for. She expressed her frustration that officials want to carry on with the demolition as scheduled.

“It’s like burying them in the rubble,” Woods told ABC News on Tuesday. “This is ridiculous.”

“We feel like they don’t care,” she added. “Our relatives, loved ones don’t count.”

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