Rescues search for people unaccounted for after after Iowa apartment collapse

Frantic search for survivors after six-story apartment building in Iowa partially collapses during repairs with fears dozens of residents who complained about issues for years are unaccounted for

  • Part of an apartment building on Main Street in Davenport, Iowa, collapsed Sunday evening
  • Crews are searching for unaccounted for people, as seven were rescued from the building
  • Police are asking people to avoid the area as rescue efforts continue 

A dire search is underway for unaccounted residents after a massive section of a six-story apartment building collapsed in Iowa Sunday. 

Rescue crews were on scene at the building on Main Street in Davenport Sunday night into Monday frantically digging through the rubble. 

A portion of the building came crashing down around 5pm as panicked residents desperately tried to flee for their lives. 

Seven people were rescued were from the building, and 12 were helped from the collapse, officials said. The search is now on for the missing. 

‘We both grab out cats, she grabbed one, I grabbed one, got to the door,’ Lexus Berry said about trying to get to safety with his wife Quanisha White-Berry. 

‘I watched her, and everything just fell down and everything fell on top of me, and I barely made it out the door.’ 

‘I got out, but there was nothing left but where I was standing at. Everything else was gone.’

Building residents had complained for years about needed repairs. City leaders said the building had permits to make the fixes when the collapse happened.  

Part of a six-story apartment building collapsed in Davenport, iowa, Sunday afternoon

Part of a six-story apartment building collapsed in Davenport, iowa, Sunday afternoon

Officials said there are unaccounted for people, but not how many, as crews search the rubble for missing tenants

Officials said there are unaccounted for people, but not how many, as crews search the rubble for missing tenants

Crews have entered the building. Med Force helicopter on scene. Gurney was seen being wheeled over to the building as well.

Posted by KWQC TV6 News on Sunday, May 28, 2023

It remains unclear what caused the collapse of the building on Main Street, which was home to about 80 apartments. But fire crews on the scene found a ‘large natural gas leak’ and water leaking from all the floors. 

Robert Robinson lived on the complex’s second floor and just returned from a smoke break outside when part of the building fell. 

‘When we started to go back in the lights went out,’ Robinson. ‘All of a sudden everybody started running out saying the building collapsed. I´m glad we came down when we did.’ 

The extent of the injuries among people who were inside the building when it collapsed is unknown. 

First responders say the search for survivors will be challenging, as there have been secondary collapses.

‘Our big thing is the stability of the building. We’re not actually sure how stable the building is,’ Fire Chief Michael Carlsten said. ‘Even while we were on the scene, we did have multiple secondary drops of debris coming from that structure.

‘We want to make sure that all of our first responders are able to process through in a safe manner,’ he continued. ‘But we still want to get through there as quickly as possible.’ 

Several current and former tenants told the Quad City Times that the building had issues in the past.

‘It sounds bad, but we have been calling the city and giving complaints since December. Our bathroom caved in December,’ Jennifer Smith told the outlet.

Davenport’s director of development and neighborhood services Rich Oswald said the building’s owners had permits to make reports to the exterior bricks before the collapse, according to KWQC. 

There were reports of bricks falling from the building earlier in the week that was part of the work, he said. 

The building was first opened in 1907, and was the home to the Davenport Hotel, the finest accommodations at the time. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, meaning its façade must be maintained.

The building’s owner, Andrew Wold, has yet to comment on the collapse. 

Police and rescue crews remained on scene Sunday night as they asked people to avoid the downtown area.