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Va. Construction Site Collapse Wounds 16

December 8, 2006

ARLINGTON, Va. (AP) _ A fresh slab of wet concrete collapsed on the 24th floor of a high-rise construction site Friday, injuring 16 workers, including two who had to be extricated from the concrete by a rescue team, officials said.

Three workers, including the two who had been trapped, were in critical condition and four were in serious condition, said Tom Polera, a spokesman for the Arlington County Fire Department. Nine other construction workers and one firefighter had minor injuries.

The concrete came down from the office tower’s roof after the scaffolding holding it up gave way, Polera said.

Oscar Moscoso, a worker at the site across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C., told reporters he pulled out six people with his hands and shovels after the collapse.

Rescuers had to shore up the concrete before freeing the two remaining trapped workers, said Capt. George Williams of Arlington County’s technical rescue team.

It took more than two hours for the last worker to be pulled out, Polera said, adding that all of the roughly 200 workers at the site when the concrete collapsed have been accounted for.

Injured workers had to be carried down several flights of stairs on stretchers because the elevator did not go all the way to the 24th floor, Williams said. Surgeons were brought in to treat workers at the scene.

Polera said the exact cause of the accident was under investigation.

The accident happened the day the contractor, Clark Construction, had planned to hold a ``topping-off party″ to celebrate the successful completion of the pouring of concrete, company president Brian Apt said.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration and county officials were investigating. An initial review by state inspectors did not show any major safety violations at the work site, said Jennifer Wester of the state Department of Labor and Industry’s workplace safety division.

The 300-foot building in Arlington’s Rosslyn section is part of a development called Waterview, which also includes a hotel and residential tower, said Brian Coulter, a spokesman for JBG Companies, the project developer.

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