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NYC Mayor Giuliani Holds News Briefing on Building Collapse in BrooklynAired July 12, 2000 - 12:08 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: We are going to move directly to New York City now, where Mayor Rudy Giuliani is talking to reporter, following the collapse last night in Brooklyn of several brownstones after an explosion.
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MAYOR RUDY GIULIANI, NEW YORK: ... at least a few years to, by hand, remove all of that rubble. Could be two, it could be three, it possibly be four hours before they are actually able to uncover the four feet of rubble. And it's one so far that's been identified.
This operation will be going on, I'm sure, at least another 12-14 hours, and maybe we'll have some answers in three or four hours. I hope so. Maybe it will take longer than that.
GIULIANI: I would never say that. I'm not certain. I think the chances are very, very slim. The person is below four feet of -- four feet this this high, right? Four feet of debris that is very tightly packed. They were able to observe it because two of the firefighters, Lieutenant Williams, I don't know the name of the other firefighter -- Bob Galano (ph) went below the building. And that's a very dangerous thing to do. I watched them do it. And they were -- they saw this -- the sneakers and then reached up with their hand and were able to touch the bottom of the leg. So that's all we know right now.
I should say something about the firefighters that are doing this and the police officers that have been here. This is very, very difficult work. And this is very dangerous work.
If you just look at the rubble that's piled up, and there at the bottom of it, you watch it and you look at it and you say to yourself, that could fall at any moment. And then they're going below ground. They're going underneath all of that into whatever vault space there is in order to search for people. Every time they do that, they take a tremendous risk. So I have -- a number of the residents told me that the firefighters and the emergency workers and everybody that was here all night did an absolutely wonderful job and I want to thank them. They have done a wonderful job. And this is very difficult work. It's dangerous and it's difficult work -- emotional.
GIULIANI: No. The assumption is that the Wallocks (ph) were together. The other gentleman, I believe, went into the building with them. And -- but we don't know that they ended up in the same place in the building when the building crashed.
GIULIANI: We're not confident there are three people inside the building. That's the information that we have. There were, all together, six occupants of the two buildings. We're quite confident that three of the occupants are not there. One of them is sitting over here, another one we spoke to last night, and the third one left at 1:00 in the afternoon and is in New Jersey, and we spoke to her yesterday, last night. So, in essence, you have three occupants that are not accounted for.
QUESTION: Can you talk about the investigation?
GIULIANI: What we've heard is that before the explosion took place, there were people that were complaining about the smell of gas, that there was a gas odor. I don't know how long they were complaining about it, but it was before the explosion. One of the reasons that -- I believe his name is Kai Cochran (ph) who is the gentleman, one of the gentlemen, that may be in the building. One of the reasons he went in the building with the Wallocks was to check out the gas smell.
Sometime thereafter, there was an explosion. And then all of the people that immediately responded to the explosion, including the firefighters who got there within a minute, the firehouse across the street. And other people that I spoke to -- the fire commissioner, Richard Scheerer (ph), they all smelled gas when they first got here.
So, based on the smell of gas before, the smell of gas after, the fact that Mr. Cochran went in the building to check out the odor of gas, we're assuming, as a hypothesis, that there was some kind of gas explosion. But, I mean, that may not be true. I mean, that's the best information that we have right now.
GIULIANI: When the Wallocks came home, someone said to them -- I don't know who that is -- one of the neighbors here said to them that there's an odor of gas.
QUESTION: Did somebody call the gas company?
GIULIANI: I don't know that. I don't know. I don't know how long. It could have been for a minute. It could have been for five minutes, it could have been for 10.
QUESTION: Were there any calls to 911, sir?
GIULIANI: No, there were none.
GIULIANI: Well, those are all things we'll look at. Once the debris is removed, we'll be able to probably ascertain what the cause is. I don't think we're going to be able to do that right now. We'll just give you the information that we have.
QUESTION: I believe it's Harriet and Lenny Wallock.
WOODRUFF: We are listening to New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani outside the site of a collapsed brownstone, an apartment building in Brooklyn. This four-story building collapsed last evening in the Boerum Hill section of Brooklyn. It happened just before 8:00 Eastern time, bringing down with it the three-story building next to it. As you heard the mayor describe, one body has already been brought out of the rubble. They are still looking for at least two more people who remain missing.
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