An investigation is underway in Germany to establish why a multi-storey building housing historical archives collapsed like a pack of cards. Emergency crews in Cologne were still searching for two people reported missing. Otherwise, staff, visitors and people living nearby had a miracle escape.
“There was a big bang and we ran and then the ceiling came down,” said one local resident.“I would have died if I had stayed sitting in my chair.” Strange groaning noises from the 1970s building alerted those inside, enabling them to flee in time. At least one person was slightly injured. Former employee Eberhard Illner echoed media speculation that the construction of an underground train line could have affected the building’s structure. He says he noticed and reported cracks in the cellar last summer.
It is not clear how much, if any, of the historical archive can be salvaged following the collapse which also demolished parts of two adjacent buildings. One of the biggest collections of its kind in Germany, it contained 65,000 documents, some dating back more than 1,000 years.