Colombia recovers body from ruins of apartment

Man who found spot in vacated parking lot crushed by collapse of tower in Colombia

Associated Press
Colombia recovers body from ruins of apartment
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Soldiers walk past the remains of a 22-story building that imploded, in Medellin, Colombia, Monday, Oct. 14, 2013. Heavy rains and fears an adjacent building could fall have forced a halt in the search for 11 people trapped in the ruins of a collapsed Colombian apartment tower. The city's emergency management director says he hasn't lost hope that someone has survived in the 22-story building that imploded on Saturday night, but that the odds are against it, given the weight of the rubble. (AP Photo /Luis Benavides)

MEDELLIN, Colombia (AP) -- Juan Esteban Cantor found a parking place, but it cost him his life.

The body of the 23-year-old university student was pulled from the ruins of a collapsed 22-story apartment tower in the Colombian city of Medellin on Tuesday, the first of 11 missing people to be located, the mayor's office announced.

Officials apparently saved many lives by evacuating the 54-unit building on Friday after cracks appeared in the walls of the recently constructed building, which was still only partly occupied. But Cantor's sister Angela said by telephone that nobody roped off the parking lot alongside the building.

Cantor lived with his parents in another tower of the "Space" development. When he arrived home Saturday night, he could not find an open space in front of that building, so he parked in front of the one that had been evacuated, his sister said.

At the same moment, the tower collapsed.

A friend who had accompanied the young man escaped, running. But Cantor was trapped in the rain of concrete.

Angela Cantor said she was visiting her parents' apartment and was watching television when suddenly "it shook ... It sounded like the end of the world." In less than a minute, the nearby building was down, she said.

"The lights went out ... we went running down the stairs" to the street, where "the cloud of dust was stunning ... shouts and desperation and a lot of terror," she said.

Officials have now evacuated other buildings in the Space complex, which is located in an exclusive neighborhood of Medellin, Colombia's second-largest city, and a wide area around the mountain of debris remained cordoned off on Tuesday.

The director of the national disaster agency, Carlos Ivan Marquez, said the 10 other missing people, most of them workers, would not be declared dead until their bodies are found.

Prosecutors say they are investigating the company that built and operated the development, Constructora Lerida CDO, which on Friday issued a statement saying it was repairing the cracks and that there was no wider danger.

Company official Pablo Villegas told Radio Caracol that the firm is ready to assume any responsibility that investigators determine. The cause of the collapse is still being probed.

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