British Columbia

1 person dead after building partially collapses at North Vancouver worksite

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

Body of person trapped in the rubble recovered by specialized team

Investigators survey the damage to the old Empire Theatres building, at the intersection of West Esplanade and Chesterfield Avenue in North Vancouver, Wednesday, Aug. 25. (Susana Da Silva)

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

Sgt. Peter DeVries confirmed the fatality in a statement Wednesday afternoon, saying a body was located in the rubble. The person could not be recovered until 5:30 p.m. PT due to the risk of further collapse.

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," DeVries told CBC. "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 stayed at the scene to confirm nobody else is missing or hurt.

The CANTF-1 heavy urban search and rescue task force, one of only six such teams in the country, was called 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.

Emergency vehicles are pictured outside the former Empire Theatres building in the Lower Lonsdale area of North Vancouver on Wednesday after the building partially collapsed during construction. (Twitter/NigelHubbard)

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.

With files from Jodi Muzylowski

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