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CNN Today

One Confirmed Dead in Brooklyn Building Collapse

Aired July 12, 2000 - 1:01 p.m. ET

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

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: The search for possible survivors continues in New York, where an explosion in a Brooklyn neighborhood caused two brownstone buildings to collapse. So far they have found one body.

CNN's Maria Hinojosa is at the scene -- Maria.

MARIA HINOJOSA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Natalie, the mayor Giuliani confirmed, just about a half an hour ago, that they have in fact found the body of one of the victims of this explosion. This is a tree- lined, beautiful Brooklyn street. The explosion happened last night at 7:41 p.m. when an entire four-story brownstone collapsed, taking half of another brownstone with it.

Firefighters were on the scene almost immediately and that's because they happen to have a firehouse right across the street. They began removing the rubble, block by block, brick by brick, in the hopes of trying to find any of the survivors.

And then they started to use cranes as realized that hope was fading, that anyone would be found alive. They've removed some of the belongings of Lenny and Harriet Wallock (ph), who lived in the brown store -- in the brownstone. And there was also somebody who came to help them, who's also missing, came to help them when they thought that they smelled gas.

The mayor confirmed that just a few minutes ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR RUDY GIULIANI, NEW YORK CITY: Before the explosion took place, there were people that were complaining about the smell of gas, that there was a gas odor. I don't know how long they were complaining about it, but it was before the explosion. One of the reasons that -- I believe his name is Kai Cochran (ph), who was the gentleman, one of the gentlemen that may be in the building. One of the reasons he went in the building with the Wallocks was to check out the gas smell.

Sometime thereafter, there was an explosion, and then all the people that immediately responded to the explosion, including the firefighters, who got there within a minute, the firehouse across the street, and other people that I spoke to: the fire commissioner, Richard Shearer (ph), they all smelled gas when they first got here. So based on the smell of gas before, the smell of gas after, the fact that Mr. Cochran went in the building to check out the odor of gas, we're assuming, as a hypothesis, that there was some kind of gas explosion. But, I mean, that may not be true. That's the best information that we have right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HINOJOSA: What we know is that they will continue to work until they recover the two other possible victims of this explosion. One sad note, they were planning on having a block party here this weekend.

Reporting live from Brooklyn, Maria Hinojosa, CNN.

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