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"The next thing you know, I heard a rumble, and a building and a sign fell on my truck," he said.
He said he lay down in the seat of his cab. It was probably over in about 30 seconds, he said. There was a lot of dirt and dust, but he was able to open the door and get out, unhurt. His truck remained nearby, partially covered in debris, as he watched recovery efforts from across the street.
High school student Jordan McLaughlin said a thick cloud of dust immediately enveloped the area.
"It was hard to breathe," he said.
The accident happened on the western edge of downtown, between the city’s business district and its main train terminal, 30th Street Station. The block had long been a seedy link between gleaming skyscrapers and the busy area around the station.
Maj. John Cranford, of The Salvation Army in Philadelphia, said officials were coordinating with the police and fire department and sent their own disaster response team to the site to serve survivors and first responders.
"Our No. 1 concern is for the safety of our customers and the employees who were involved," he said. "We ask for the public to pray for those involved."
Records show the collapsed building was sold in 1994 for $385,894. Marinakos, the architect, said plans tentatively called for the block to be redeveloped into retail stores and apartments.
Associated Press writers Maryclaire Dale, Michael Rubinkam and Ron Todt contributed to this report.
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