A four-inch-thick concrete and steel ceiling collapsed “like a lid” onto three indoor public swimming pools, killing at least 12 people and trapping others, police said today.
Rescue workers drained some water from the pools, then used jackhammers and their bare hands to dig a hole through the slab, enabling divers to enter the pool and search for survivors and bodies.
Workers at the scene said children and members of a local swim club had been among those trapped.
“It was agonizing and ghastly,” said one resident of the Zurich suburb of Uster.
40 Believed Present
About 40 people were believed to have been in the swimming complex when the ceiling section collapsed Thursday night. An undetermined number escaped injury or were treated on the scene for slight injuries.
Zurich state police spokesman Robert Leiser said two people remained hospitalized this morning with minor injuries. He said 12 had been killed.
One survivor of the accident was the Swiss national champion in the women’s 200-meter breast stroke, Fraenzi Nydegger. She was not injured but suffered from shock, rescue workers said.
Scores of rescue workers aided by six dogs worked through the night as ambulances and three evacuation helicopters stood by. A police spokesman said this morning that it appeared no more people were trapped in the pools.
The cause of the collapse of the 13-year-old building’s roof was not immediately known.