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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Toronto About Theater Collapse

Aired December 8, 2003 - 13:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: we want to take you live to the Toronto. The police chief stepping on the podium to talk about the theater collapse and the status of lives within that building.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

BILL STEWART, TORONTO FIRE CHIEF: There is one individual still in the rubble at this point and we're obviously trying to make our way into look in after that individual. So it is a rescue operation at this point.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

STEWART: That I cannot confirm that the point in time (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

STEWART: Well we have -- I want Bruce to speak to that because he's transported the individuals to the hospital.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've transported ten patients to Toronto General Hospital. Three patients to Sick Children's Hospital and one patient to St. Mike's Hospital and we've pronounced one adult patient -- pronounced him dead on the scene.

QUESTION: And the fatality, in which building did that occur?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm sorry. I don't have that information.

QUESTION: Where was the body recovered? Amongst the people that are trapped?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The body originally was trapped.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

STEWART: We have a search dog here from the province that can be used later on in the operation if it's required.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

STEWART: That I'm not sure right now of, Kevin. I have to find out (UNINTELLIGIBLE) what the capable are of that animal at this time.

QUESTION: The rescue operation under way now. Tell us about the person who's trapped. Where and under how much debris? STEWART: That I don't know. I have not been in the structure to see exactly where the individual is. There's a considerable amount of rubble in the structure. I believe there -- crews believe there is visible contact in terms of where the individual may be. So they will be going in, dig into the rubble to try and extricate.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

STEWART: Well they had believed before they had seen individuals in the area and with all of the debris that had come down. So they'll begin searching those areas and they'll be using (UNINTELLIGIBLE) as well as, I believe, we're going to be putting in police dog services to have a look at the individuals' potential in there as well.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) still early, but what happened and what went wrong?

STEWART: That I can't tell you. I don't know. Obviously, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) will be investigated.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

STEWART: At this point in time we understand there may be one in there. We've extricated two now. OK?

QUESTION: Do you have any information as to the sex of the victim, the possible age?

STEWART: I don't.

QUESTION: Bill, are you in communication with anyone who still may be trapped there?

STEWART: Not at this time. Not to my knowledge.

QUESTION: Tell us about the assets you have on the scene. How are you looking for these people. How many people do you have in there? Can you bring in heavy equipment? Or is it too unstable?

STEWART: It is too unstable to use heavy equipment at this point in time. We have to take (UNINTELLIGIBLE) by shoring and timbers and ensuring that the structure is sound. On terms of site, we have a fourth alarm here which is 100 trauma firefighters.

QUESTION: Is there a danger to the firefighters (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?

STEWART: Certainly until we can support the large (UNINTELLIGIBLE) question, we have an engineer here on the site, when have to insure that beam's is supported and when it's supported then it will be safer for crews to move deeper into the building.

QUESTION: What kind of challenges are they up against?

STEWART: Well, if you can appreciate, we've got all that debris and rubble down and concrete. So it becomes, as I've indicated, very labor intensive so you physically have to move that, move it by hand in most cases.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

STEWART: The roofing fell that you see is typical to a flat roof and that's what you're seeing from the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) that's come down and that's separated on the collapse.

PHILLIPS: Bill Stewart, the fire chief, briefing reporters on the aging theater that collapsed earlier this morning in Toronto. The update here as we look at pictures of that theater, there was actually a demolition project taking place when it collapsed.

We are told right now 11 adults have been rescued from this debris. They've been taken to the hospital. Three kids have been taken out of here and taken to a hospital. So far, one confirmed death. An adult that was trapped inside the rubble was killed when this theater collapsed.

The investigation into how this happened is still taking place. We're told a language class was apparently under way in the top floor classroom of this theater when it collapsed. The investigation, once again, under way as crews right now still trying to rescue one individual they say is still alive and trapped underneath that rubble.

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