Workers sift through rubble of Center City building collapse

PHILADELPHIA - June 24, 2013

Being as gentle as possible, using a small excavator, workers sifted through the remains of what had been the Salvation Army Store at 22nd and Market.

They searched for personal items, cell phones or handbags lost by collapse victims, as well as store equipment.

All of it was collected under the watchful eye of Philadelphia Police Crime Scene Investigators.

"We're just here to assist with it and the crime scene unit is actually making that differentiation. They are going to sort through and identify where they want to move things," Tom O' Grady of Mellon Certified Restoration said.

It did not appear any of the found items belonged to the victims. Purses were located, but it's believed they had been part of the store's inventory.

Workers also dug out what appeared to be parts of the store's cash register, as well as the Salvation Army store sign.

Tons of building rubble was hauled away, but given the potential for protracted legal wrangling, even that will be stored should it be needed as potential evidence.

At one point today, health department inspectors visited the collapse site. Action News is told they are concerned that asbestos could be in the rubble.

Citing the grand jury probe, the city would not comment.

But we were told a private asbestos specialist will be called in to examine the site.

Meanwhile next door, cleanup work at the larger 2132 Market or the Hoagie City building was to have started today as well.

A second demolition company, Geppert Brothers, had moved equipment in place Friday, but as of this afternoon, the firm was still negotiating a contract with that buildings owner.

It is expected the work at the Salvation Army site will take several days.

The man who was operating a piece of demolition equipment on the day of the collapse, 42-year-old Sean Benschop, faces six counts of involuntary manslaughter, 13 counts of recklessly endangering another person and one count of risking a catastrophe.

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