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1 dead after crane load falls onto building in Vancouver

A crane dropped its load onto a building under construction at the Oakridge redevelopment area on Wednesday, according to emergency crews. (Gian Paolo Mendoza/CBC - image credit)
A crane dropped its load onto a building under construction at the Oakridge redevelopment area on Wednesday, according to emergency crews. (Gian Paolo Mendoza/CBC - image credit)

One person has died after a tower crane dropped its load onto a building under construction in Vancouver's Oakridge neighbourhood on Wednesday, according to emergency crews.

Vancouver Fire Rescue Services (VFRS) closed Cambie Street between West 41st Avenue and West 45th Avenue through the evening rush hour as they responded to the fatality.

Matthew Trudeau, the VFRS' public information officer, confirmed the fatality hours after the load fell around 3 p.m. PT. He said the person who died was on the ground level when they were struck by the falling load.

He said authorities were still in the process of identifying the dead person, including whether they were a construction worker.

"It appears that the the load was somehow dislodged or came off of the crane while it was lifting, fell against the building and then fell onto a worker or a person at the bottom," he said. "We're confirming the details of the individual, as far as [them] being a worker."

A CBC News reporter on the scene saw significant damage to multiple floors of a high-rise building under construction.

Ethan Cairns/The Canadian Press
Ethan Cairns/The Canadian Press

Trudeau told reporters at around 4:30 p.m. PT that the crane itself was intact, and the crane operator is accounted for.

He said the load first struck the floors of the building around 25 storeys up, and about 1,700 workers had evacuated the site.

"When the load did come off, it ... struck a number of floors on the way down," he said. "Some of [it] damaged fencing material, some of the windows."

Ethan Cairns/The Canadian Press
Ethan Cairns/The Canadian Press

Trudeau said crews scaled the crane and the building and secured all loose construction material that was jarred by the falling load.

A spokesperson for B.C. Emergency Health Services said they first received a call around 3 p.m. PT, and dispatched two ambulances. They say paramedics did not transport any patients to hospital.

In a statement, provincial workplace regulator WorkSafeBC said they were told of the "serious incident" at around 3 p.m. PT.

"WorkSafeBC has sent prevention officers to the site, and WorkSafeBC's [occupation health and safety] investigations team has been mobilized," the statement read.

Gian Paolo Mendoza/CBC
Gian Paolo Mendoza/CBC

Construction crews are redeveloping the Oakridge Centre mall area as part of long-term renovations.

The Oakridge redevelopment area includes a mix of modern condo towers, townhomes, community facilities and green space.

In a statement, a representative of the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) said their thoughts were with the workers at the site and "the families of those affected."

"This serves as a reminder of the need to improve the regulatory environment to the highest level along with adequate enforcement," said Brian Cochrane from IUOE Local 115.

The union has been calling for the B.C. government to beef up certification and training for crane operators for some time, especially after a deadly crane collapse in 2021 in Kelowna, B.C.

In a statement, B.C. Premier David Eby and Labour Minister Harry Bains said they were saddened by the fatality at the construction site.

"Every worker deserves to return home safely at the end of the day and this incident is a stark reminder of the importance of workplace safety," they said.