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Mo. Building Collapses, Trapping Some

June 27, 2006

CLINTON, Mo. (AP) _ A three-story Elks Club building partially collapsed as its members gathered for a dinner, injuring several people and trapping some inside.

There were no fatalities ``that we know of,″ said Clinton police Lt. Sonny Lynch.

Local business owner Barry Glasscock said dozens of people were on the second floor of the building in this west-central Missouri town when the third floor collapsed.

Nine people were still in the collapsed building, and all but one had contacted authorities through their cell phones, Lynch said. Those who called indicated they were largely OK.

Rescue workers were on the scene, determining how to save people stuck in the building, its facade reduced to jagged brick.

``If we can peel this thing back and take it apart and not have any more collapse, we should be fine,″ Lynch said. ``I really think we can do this.″

Club members had gathered for dinner and were preparing to initiate new members at a meeting that was to start at 8 p.m. when the collapse occurred just after 7 p.m.

The collapse occurred in the aging downtown of this community of about 9,500 people, upstairs from a men’s clothing store, sandwiched between a law firm and a pharmacy.

Diane Hannah, executive director of Clinton Main Street, said the building is a historic brick structure that’s about 100 years old and houses a retail store on the first floor.

Henry County Presiding Commissioner Greg Lowe, who was eating dinner in the building when it started to collapse, said he wasn’t sure he was going to make it out alive.

``It started caving in,″ he said. ``I went into the next building. The ceiling was falling in. I got to the front and we were going to jump, and then we found a staircase.

``It happened so fast,″ said Lowe, who had a cut on his head and knots and bruises on his legs from falling brick. ``I don’t know what in the hell would make the thing come down so fast. I figured I was history.″

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