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Structure in Watergate garage collapses; 1 person injured

Structure in Watergate garage collapses; 1 person injured

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Rescuers were searching for a possible victim Friday at the site of a collapsed parking garage at the Watergate complex after a cadaver dog made a possible hit in the rubble, District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser said.

One person was injured and taken to a hospital after the three stories of the garage collapsed Friday morning, fire department officials said. A second person was evaluated at the scene and refused further treatment.

After working all afternoon to shore up the structure and search for any more injured people inside, rescuers shifted their efforts to a recovery operation, Bowser said. Three search dogs sent into the collapsed garage found no signs of life.

It will be a long process as firefighters work to shore up the site to search for a possible victim, officials said. Much of the complex remained evacuated late Friday afternoon, including condominiums located near the collapse site.

Fire department spokesman Timothy Wilson described the scene as a "pancake collapse" in which one floor falls into another. The area was under construction at the time. Photographs from the outside showed the garage may have had a green roof with trees and plants that fell into the collapsed area.

All construction workers at the scene were accounted for, Wilson said. Fire department spokesman Oscar Mendez said no one else had been reported missing.

Construction worker Gabriel Gresczyk said he heard a rumble and then saw a 40-foot-by-40-foot section go down, hitting the floor below it. Then he says the floor below collapsed.

"One of our guys had just come up from that area," Gresczyk said. "Thank God he's all right."

The historic Watergate complex was evacuated after the collapse. The complex was made famous by the 1972 burglary and scandal that eventually led to the resignation of President Richard M. Nixon. The Watergate Hotel, which is part of the complex of offices and condominiums, is undergoing a $125 million renovation.

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