TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) — A multilevel parking garage under construction in the city of Tel Aviv collapsed on Monday, killing at least two people and injuring about 17 others, Israeli police and rescuers said, as rescue teams worked all day and into the night to locate several people believed trapped under the rubble.
The midday collapse sent a large plume of dust floating over the area. Those killed were not identified but they were likely workers at the construction zone. The cause of the collapse was under investigation.
Israeli TV broadcast footage showing a large, crater-like hole in the ground, and twisted support beams as rescue teams, accompanied by search dogs, dug through the rubble.
Police, fire and military teams were participating in the rescue. The military's Home Front Command sent about 150 members of its special search-and-rescue team to the scene. The unit is often sent to disaster zones around the world to help locate victims from earthquakes, tsunamis and other natural disasters.
Earlier in the day, Col. Golan Vach, a commander in the unit, said seven people were believed to be trapped in the rubble at several different locations. He described the scene as "very complicated" and said rescue efforts could continue for several days.
The Israeli military later said soldiers and rescue forces managed to extract five civilians from the rubble and that efforts were underway to rescue another five.
A construction worker from the site said he was underground in the garage when he began to feel vibrations.
"All of a sudden everything collapsed," the man, Micha Lavine, identified by Channel 10 TV as a project manager at the site. "It was scary. You feel like everything is going to collapse, and you are going with it." Speaking to reporters at a hospital, he said he was blown backward by a blast and lightly injured.
Israel's national rescue service said two people, including a 35-year-old man, were confirmed dead, and 22 people injured.
"It is a very tough arena for rescue, it is really life threatening," Eli Bin, the head of Israel's rescue service MDA told Israeli media. "We are very worried if we will succeed in reaching those same people whose voices we can definitely hear."
The construction site is located in Ramat Hahayal, a commercial area in northern Tel Aviv. The neighborhood is home to many high-tech businesses, restaurants and a hospital.
Police spokeswoman Luba Samri said Monday night that one of the fatalities has been identified as a foreign worker from the Ukraine.
So far this year, 28 construction workers have died in work accidents on building sites in the country, Samri said.