Multiple people are dead after a crane attached to a high-rise building under construction collapsed in downtown Kelowna, B.C., on Monday, police said.
“There are multiple confirmed fatalities and we are working to confirm all occupants and workers of the building and the worksite,” said Inspector Adam MacIntosh of the Kelowna RCMP detachment.
“The crane fell to the north, striking the adjacent professional business building, causing damage. The crane also fell across the rear parkway, striking the roof to an old-age home.”
Police would not say if the victims are workers or bystanders, stating that not all next of kin have been notified yet.
One person not connected to the worksite remains unaccounted for, MacIntosh said.
The Mission Group, a residential and commercial real estate developer, said the “catastrophic failure” occurred during the crane dismantling process.
“Mission Group expresses its deepest sympathy for the families of those affected by this tragedy,” the company said in a written statement.
“We have set up support services to help those in need.”
BC Emergency Health Services (BC EHS) said 12 ground ambulances were dispatched to the scene, including two critical care teams.
Three patients were transported to hospital in stable, serious and critical condition.
The City of Kelowna has declared a local state of emergency in response to the threat to people and property caused by the crane collapse.
A 250-foot radius surrounding the building has been evacuated, in case the rest of the crane were to collapse, MacIntosh said.
Kelowna RCMP said the block of Bernard Avenue/St. Paul St/Doyle Ave/ Bertram Street is now closed to the public until further notice.
“If you are in this area, please leave as soon as possible in a safe manner,” said Cpl. Jocelyn Noseworthy in an emailed statement.
“Please remain away from this area at this time.”
The apartment building where the incident occurred is called Brooklyn at Bernard Block.
The Central Okanagan Emergency Operations Centre has been activated.
Individuals evacuated from the area can go to the Salvation Army at 1480 Sutherland Avenue. Families of those injured or unaccounted for should go to the Parkinson Recreation Centre (McIntosh Room) at 1700 Parkinson Way.
The emergency operations centre (EOC) said a formal evacuation order has been issued for 547 – 612 Bernard Ave., 1450 – 1488 Bertram Street and 1441 – 1471 St. Paul Street.
“As an evolving situation, the incident site and its surrounding area remains unsafe and unstable. Road and sidewalk closures, including barricades, are in place to ensure safety. Residents and visitors are to stay out of the area,” the EOC said in an emailed statement.
Impacted residents cannot return home and employees cannot return to their place of work until the order is lifted, the EOC said.
Interior Health said Kelowna General Hospital (KGH) issued a code orange alert, signalling a mass casualty event. It was stood down at approximately 1:00 p.m.
Witnesses said the massive crane collapsed at approximately 11:00 a.m. Video from the scene shows major damage to an adjacent building and at least one vehicle.
WATCH: We hear some first hand accounts from people in the area around St. Paul Street and Bernard Avenue in Kelowna, BC where a crane collapsed at a twenty-eight storey building in the downtown core. At least three people have been injured, and power has been shut down in the area.
Authorities are asking motorists to stay away from the downtown core, as emergency responders deal with the “significant industrial incident.”
Power has been disrupted to much of the downtown area and traffic is being re-routed, police said.
Dan Blocka, a part-time Kelowna resident, said he spotted the crane coming down.
“I just got on the bus at the Queensway bus depot to go to UBC and when I sat down looking east, a big part of a crane just tipped northward from Bernard going north,” he told Global News.
“I was in shock looking up and seeing this thing go down.”
WorksafeBC says its prevention and investigations teams are responding to the incident.
“The purpose of our investigation is to identify the cause of the incident, including any contributing factors, so that similar incidents can be prevented from happening in the future,” the agency said in an email.
The cause of the collapse is under investigation.