Structure Collapse Causes Border Closure

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    NEWSLETTERS

    AP
    Border officials and emergency personnel look over the construction site where a scaffolding collapsed at the San Ysidro Port of Entry in San Diego on Sept. 14, 2011.

    The San Ysidro Port of Entry in San Diego was closed Wednesday as firefighters worked to rescue three people trapped under collapsed scaffolding.

    The temporary platform was just below the roof that houses the Customs and Border Protection's Secondary Inspection on the northbound side of Interstate 5. It collapsed about 10:45 a.m., said San Diego Fire spokesperson Maurice Luque.

    Fifteen cars were in the area when the platform collapsed, said Luque. Most of the victims were able to get out on their own, but three victims had to be rescued by firefighters after becoming trapped inside their cars, Luque said.

    "The damage to vehicles was significant," Luque told the San Diego Union-Tribune. "It could have been a whole lot worse. It could have been really, really tragic."

    Eleven victims, including a pregnant woman, were transported to local hospitals with injuries, KNSD-TV reported. Eleven others were assessed by paramedics at the scene, the TV station reported.

    Most of the victims were complaining about breathing and respiratory problems, Luque said.

    The collapse involved scaffolding set up to keep demolition debris from falling onto cars. The 50-foot-by-50-foot wood platform collapsed likely because of the weight of the debris, said Luque.

    The administration complex above the crossing is being demolished as part of a $577 million reconstruction project, the Union-Tribune reported. The 24 northbound lanes beneath it have remained open during construction.

    Southbound lanes remained open to traffic Wednesday afternoon, while an estimated opening for the northbound side was not available, the Union-Tribune reported.

    Engineers are evaluating the area to assess if there is a risk of further collapse.