1 dead after building partially collapses at North Vancouver work site

One person is presumed dead and another is injured after a building at a worksite in North Vancouver, B.C., partially collapsed on Wednesday, according to RCMP.

Sgt. Peter DeVries said the person believed to have died is trapped under the rubble. 

“It is very difficult for rescuers to get to that person at this point but the belief is that this person [is] deceased. However, that has not yet been confirmed,” he told reporters around noon on Wednesday. “It was clear this person had catastrophic injuries.”

Police were called to the old Empire Theatres building, at the intersection of West Esplanade and Chesterfield Avenue, around 9:45 a.m. PT. Officers arrived to find a portion of the building had given way.

“It appears there was some sort of collapse in the structure where there was construction taking place,” Sgt. Peter DeVries declared. “It was a bit of a chaotic scene.”

Fire crews rescued a second person from some machinery caught in the collapse. They were hospitalized but are in stable condition, according to B.C. Emergency Health Services (BCEHS).

RCMP officers, city fire crews and paramedics have stayed at the scene to confirm nobody else is missing or hurt.

North Vancouver Fire and Rescue Service chief Greg Shalk said the CANTF-1 heavy urban search and rescue task force and structural engineers have been called to the scene to recover the body.

“This is a tragic incident, it’s upsetting for people who live and work in this area, certainly,” DeVries said of the collapse.

The three-storey building is located in the busy Lower Lonsdale area, a short walk from the SeaBus terminal and Lonsdale Quay.

It originally opened as Esplanade 6 Cinema in the 1990s. It was later taken over by Empire Theatres, Landmark Cinemas and Cineplex before the cinema shut down in 2019.

A statement from BCEHS said the building was in the process of being demolished.

The RCMP’s serious crimes unit is investigating to see whether any criminal action led to the collapse, according to DeVries. WorkSafeBC has also launched its own investigation.

RCMP have shut down traffic on Chesterfield Avenue as a safety precaution.

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