Four people are confirmed to have died in Monday’s crane collapse in downtown Kelowna, say police, and a fifth is believed to be buried in rubble in an adjacent building.
Kelowna RCMP announced the news on Tuesday during a press conference at 11 a.m.
Just hours after Monday morning’s deadly crane collapse along the 1400 block of St. Paul Street, police said there were multiple fatalities, though they did not release how many had died.
On Tuesday, four bouquets of flowers could be seen at the site of the crane collapse.
RCMP Insp. Adam MacIntosh said the four individuals who died were all men who were found at the scene of the collapse.
One of the four was transported to hospital, but later died.
Police said all four were associated with the worksite, that being the 25-storey tower under construction.
The fifth person, also a man, was in a building that houses a consulting business of some sort, police said.
A sixth person was taken to hospital, with what police called non-life-threatening injuries, but has since been released.
As to why the crane collapsed, MacIntosh said it was his understanding that workers had been getting ready to dismantle the crane.
“Why that crane collapsed, that’s part of the investigation,” he said. “We don’t know the answer and I certainly can’t speculate.
Hammer falls on Kanye West after he praises Hitler, posts swastika
Passenger killed after large ‘rogue’ wave hits Antarctic cruise ship
“Obviously, something catastrophic occurred. That’s the responsibility of WorkSafeBC, in conjunction with the RCMP — first to ensure it’s not a criminal event, and the other is the investigation by WorkSafeBC to determine exactly what occurred.”
A state of emergency was declared on Monday afternoon by Central Okanagan Emergency Operations, and it remains in effect.
A large portion of the downtown core is cordoned off by police tape, and the families of the victims have been notified.
“Due to the damage to several buildings, and the danger posed by the partially collapsed crane, a large area of the downtown core of Kelowna was closed and the surrounding area was evacuated,” RCMP said in a press release on Tuesday afternoon.
WATCH: Many people remain out of their homes and nearby businesses remain closed as officials work to stabilize crash site. Jules Knox reports.
“The evacuation will remain in effect until the area has been determined to be safe.”
MacIntosh said the immediate goal is to reduce the risk of further possible crane collapse. Once that’s secure, the boom and portion that had collapsed will then be removed, which would allow the fifth person to be located within the rubble.
“We’re hoping as early as this afternoon,” MacIntosh said when asked how long that could take.
He also said “(Monday) was a tragic day. To see all those workers standing there, knowing that they had just lost some of their friends and co-workers, and to see the families and what they were dealing with, I can only imagine what they were going through.
“Right now, what we want to do is everything we can to support the investigation and support WorkSafeBC and support those families.”
MacIntosh said no one was hurt during rescue efforts.
“When ambulance, fire and police arrived, I think it was extremely dangerous,” he said. “There was a genuine risk that it could come down on rescue workers, workers as a whole.
“It was extremely dangerous and I think we were very fortunate that no other lives have been lost. No rescuers were injured and we want to keep it that way.”
Premier John Horgan also called the crane collapse tragic.
“When people go to work in the morning, they expect to be able to come home in the evening,” said Horgan.
“And it is just a very sad day for those families who’ve been affected, as well as all the people in Kelowna. Our thoughts are with the people in Kelowna.”
If you witnessed this incident and have not yet spoken to police, or have any information about this incident, you are urged to call the Kelowna RCMP at 250-762-3300.
On Tuesday afternoon, the development company involved with the tower issued a press release.
The Mission Group said at approximately 10:45 a.m., on Monday, “there was a catastrophic failure of a crane at our Brooklyn construction site during the crane dismantling process. The RCMP have confirmed four fatalities. A fifth individual is unaccounted for.”
“Mission Group expresses its deepest sympathy for the families of those who lost their lives. We have set up support services to help those in need and continue to communicate with our employees, trades, and others who have been affected by this tragedy.
“We would like to express our gratitude to Kelowna’s emergency service crews. Their timely and professional response to rescue and treat those impacted made a very meaningful difference.”
Mission Group said it will continue to work with all investigators and authorities.