Rescuers were digging through the debris of a partially collapsed parking garage early Saturday, hoping to find at least one person who was trapped after a glass canopy attached to a high-rise condominium building fell onto the underground structure two stories below.
A car was pulled from the rubble at around 11 p.m. Friday (0300GMT Saturday), more than 12 hours after the collapse, but there was no immediate word on whether anyone was inside. Police at the scene declined to comment.
Using a remote camera and a robot earlier in the day, rescuers could see one victim in a car on the first level down but couldn't get to the person because they were concerned about the possibility of another collapse at the three-story garage, Hackensack fire Lt. Stephen Lindner said. They could not determine the victim's condition.
Lindner said late Friday night that rescuers held out hope that the person was still alive. They needed to clear debris and shore up the structure before attempting a rescue.
"We still consider this a rescue mission," Lindner said.
Authorities were checking out whether a second person might also be trapped, Lindner said. Surveillance cameras detected another car on an exit ramp two levels down around the time of the collapse, but rescuers were unable to determine if someone was inside.
Neither car was completely flattened, Lindner said.
"There is some chance of survivability there," he said, but added that the cameras haven't detected any movement.
The garage pancaked when the canopy fell on it, damaging vehicles. The top of the garage, level with the street, was littered with dirt, debris and glass, and the pavement split into chunks.
Rachel LaValle, 26, said she was driving out of the garage and had reached the street level when she noticed a cloud of thick white dust. Mistaking it for smoke, she got out of her car to check for a fire. Then, seeing through the dust to the part of the garage that had collapsed, she got back in her car, shifted it into reverse, parked and ran out of the garage.
She saw water spilling out of pipes and a big hole where part of the garage had once stood.
"There was still dirt coming down at me," she said.
It's unclear why the canopy fell from the 22-year-old building, which is adjacent to the garage. Several residents said workers had uprooted a tree between the street and the building within the past few months, and that a leak in the basement was being fixed.
Resident Chris Baldo was in his first-floor unit when he felt the building shake. He looked out his window and the garage "was just gone," he said.
All residents were evacuated as a precaution and weren't expected to be allowed to return before Sunday at the earliest, Lindner said.
Tax records show the condo tower was built in 1988. Equity Residential Properties of Chicago bought in 1998 for $36.3 million.
Marty McKenna, a spokesman for Equity Residential, said the building owner did not have much information yet about what happened.
Police were checking with the building management company for a list of tenants, but no one was reported missing so far, Chief Tomas Padilla said.
Associated Press writer Geoff Mulvihill in Haddonfield, New Jersey, contributed to this report.