A building that was being torn down collapsed with a thunderous boom, raining bricks on a neighbouring thrift store, killing six people and injuring at least 13 others in an accident that witnesses said was bound to happen.

Early reports from Mayor Michael Nutter had been that one woman had died in the Wednesday morning accident, but rescuers using buckets and their bare hands to move bricks and rubble kept working through the evening.

Body bags were removed from the collapse site at night, and Mr. Nutter said at a news conference that authorities didn’t know how many people had been in the thrift shop or on the sidewalk.

Mr. Nutter said the city’s emergency workers had been “diligent, determined, focused” in their rescue efforts.

“If anyone else is in that building, they will find them,” he said.

One woman was pulled from the rubble of the Salvation Army thrift store, two hours after the 10:45 a.m. collapse when rescuers heard her voice, city fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers said.

Rescuers had been prepared to dig through the rubble all night because they didn’t know how many people were in the thrift store when the building collapsed on it.

Survivors were taken to hospitals with mostly minor injuries, and some had been treated and released by evening.

Officials from the Department of Labour and Occupational Safety and Health Administration were at the scene.

The collapse involved an empty building that once housed a first-floor sandwich shop and apartments above. The thrift shop was on one side. The other side was an adult bookstore and theatre that had been taken down within the last few months.

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