Tuesday, March 03, 2009

cologne municipal archive building collapsed

In Cologne, Germany, the municipal archive collapsed today at around 2pm. People believed to be trapped in building. It is feared that lives have been lost (according to Cologne newspaper Express, no known death at this time [7:10p], but 9 people missed [5:40p]). It was a typical business day and there were both clerks as well as customers inside the building. However, no official statement yet exists. According to Reuters (4:55p), official said at least one person injured, possibly others trapped in collapsed building.

As some people told German media, there have been subway construction works close to the collapsed buildings. Sources say subway workers ran out of the construction site and yelled. That lead to some people fleeing the building. According to one eyewitness, some other, smaller buildings have also collapsed in the mean time (4:40p). The witness says the road sag. According to cologne radio station WDR, the building actually collapsed into a newly-build subway tunnel. The road shall be wide open, also collapsed into it (~5p).

While this is speculation, it looks like the subway construction seems to have caused shifts of earth masses, which ultimately resulted in the collapse of the building. Cologne subway operator KVB says there were no larger construction work at this moment below the building. If that is true, it may probably be the result of a larger chain of events (and hopefully the last in that chain...).

On German radio station SWR3, a neighbor said that a close-by church was close to collapese due to subway work. This situation seems to have been solved in the mean time.

Last week, the site was part of the large cologne carnival parade. One can not imaging what might have been caused if the collapse had happened at that time.

Some picture of the site before the incident:

The webcam I quote below seems to have been right inside the collapsed building (speculation on my part). I was able to connect to the web cam server five times now, the picture is always the one below. I guess that was the last picture the webcam ever made. If so, the collapse was closely after 2:20pm:

Google maps for orientation (you see it happend right in a densly populated area):

View Larger Map

View Larger Map

The municipal archives was not only a historical building, it also held important historical documents (see description below). I guess that many of these documents have been lost, but hope that many can be recovered. According to Cologne's official web site, it was one of the largest municipal archives in Germany, holding original documents from over thousand years of history. As it looks, there seem to have not been any roman artifacts inside the building.

Correction: the building itself was not historical, it was erected in 1971. There is a picture of it available at the German news site Spiegel online (you may need to go back and forth as they add pictures - this does not look like a permanent link).


I stop compiling news now (6:20p), nothing really new appeared the past hour. I guess the situation must clear up. Mainstream media will probably have good coverage tomorrow. If you hear anything interesting, please let me know (e.g. by commenting).

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