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tv   Caught on Camera  MSNBC  May 3, 2015 4:00pm-5:01pm PDT

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that's all for this edition of "caught on camera." when you are in the danger zone, get out of the way fast. a landslide terrify as small town in italy. a sinkhole swallow as street in hollywood. >> this looks like it could be really, really bad. z threaten the lives of workers in tennessee. >> wouldn't believe what we were seeing. in this hour, caution.
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hazards ahead. "caught on camera: watch out." 30,000 tons of rock come crashing down onto a two-lane highway, threatening road crews working in the area. >> i looked up and the trees were coming down at the same time. we knew this was not your average old slide. we didn't expect anything like that. >> that's something you'll never forget. >> november 10th, 2009. polk county, tennessee. it's a dreary, chilly morning, and wdef news cameraman is
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covering the story of a boulder that has fallen on to u.s. 64. >> originally, we were just going to try to get pictures of a boulder in the road. we didn't know how big. we didn't know if there were any cars trapped underneath. >> when fairbanks reporter bill mitchell arrives, the road is closed to traffic and the tennessee department of transportation, better known as tdot, is using a giant hydraulic hammer to break up the enormous rock. >> it was huge. it was massive. it covered up an entire lane of the road. they were hitting this thing with all they had, and it was not cracking. you can just see little splitters of rock fly up through the air. as far as breaking that thing apart, it wasn't going anywhere. >> the 24-mile, two-lane highway goes through a narrow pass called the ocoee gorge and is flanked by little frog mountain on the one side and the ocoee river on the other. the trip through the ocoee gorge normally takes 20 minutes, but with the road closed, the detour around the mountain adds more
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than two hours to the commute. >> there's a tremendous amount of pressure to get the road open, but you have to do it and do it safely. >> steve jones, tdot's county supervisor, knows commuters want him to work fast. >> we got people that get mad at us when we stop for five minutes doing maintenance work. you can imagine what it was like for hours. >> according to jones, the area gets two to three rock slides a year and when they happen, a tdot geologist is always called to the scene. >> it was her call to view the situation to see whether we can get it safely done, to get everything stabilized to make sure it's safe for traffic to go through. >> vanessa bateman is in her tdot office in nashville when she gets a report of a rock slide. >> at that point, it was clear it was an emergency. they had a rock in the road. the road is closed, everyone gets excited. okay, what is going on. >> it takes bateman about three
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hours to drive to the site. when she arrives, there are about 30 people working to get the road open. >> the emergency response folks were there. the county maintenance guys were there and then a construction company had been called to come in to bring in the equipment that would be needed to break up the rocks that were on the road, get them off. there was one larger rock, and there was a news crew. >> we saw somebody from tdot show up. and this young lady got out, and she walked up and she looked at me and she walked on past, and she glanced at the boulder and then she went over and talked to mr. jones. >> bill mitchell, a 30-year news veteran, has covered many rock slides during his career, but none this big. >> and then she came back over and she said, why don't you guys move back a little ways. she said, i'm hearing things up on that mountain that really unnerve me. i said, what are you hearing? she said, i'm hearing pops and snaps and things that make me believe some more debris may
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come down. so we moved back about 20 yards at that time. >> i heard a sound that sounded like a car door slam. a really sharp rapport. i talked to steve, the county maintenance supervisor and said, have you heard this sound before? what's going on? he said, yeah, we did indeed hear this before. i said, we have to get all this construction equipment stopped. we have to hear what's going on. >> sensing imminent danger, they stopped the jackhammer and moved the construction and news crews even further back. >> vanessa goes on and she takes a look at the mountain and then she walks back and she's talking to some of the tdot personnel. and all of a sudden, they start walking back, she jumps in her car and drives to the other end of the road, and they're walking backwards. they go right past me. and i turn to them. i said, what's going on? what did she say? and they say she said the mountain is going to come down. i said really? they said, yeah. she said run. >> fairbanks moves to safety,
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but as a photojournalist, keeps his camera rolling when it looks like nothing is going to happen. >> i just set up the camera and waited. and our reporter, bill mitchell, came up. and he said, you know, we probably ought to get back to the station. i said, yeah, you're probably right. but she looked really convinced. i would hate to leave and then hear it had fallen down. so we waited. we almost both gave up at this point and almost turned our heads away from it. and then all the sudden a big slab of rock came down. >> 30,000 tons of mountain crashes down on to the road. it takes only seconds for rocks, earth, and trees to descend on to the road where the men were just standing. >> the rocks hitting the ground -- you could almost feel it shake.
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all you could hear was that rumbling sound. it sounded like something out of a movie. it sounded like cars crashing. the rocks were hitting the ground. all of a sudden, it stopped and everything came to a standstill. >> i was standing there looking at this thing, not believing my eyes and then the whole thing comes rushing down the slope, an immense amount of noise and dust. and you never see something like this in person. >> there's so much stuff going through your mind, 'cause to see rocks the size of greyhound buses come off the side of that mountain, when they hit the road, we found pieces of the yellow line in the center of the river 200 feet away. the road was gone. when i watched those rocks come down, they didn't stop. i wonder, you know, if anybody had been out there, could we have ever found them?
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>> while the road crew assesses the massive damage, the news crew asks themselves the age-old photojournalist question. did we get the shot? >> my big worry was, was it actually rolling? and, you know, i waited a little while before i hit stop. and then i thought, please let this be on camera. please let this be on camera. and i went back and rewound the tape and hit play and there it was. i felt a big sense of relief. got it! >> i knew he had it when he didn't talk to me. he just stood there and grinned. >> it takes road crews five months to reopen the highway. the total cost of the cleanup, $2.1 million. >> we worked in the snow, we worked in the rain to get the site stabilized to open the road again. these guys started doing the initial scaling so it was safe to move in equipment below the slope. and then a lot of work was done
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with a crane. we went in and used rock bolts 15 to 40 feet into the rock face and added bolts to the site to try to stabilize everything. >> while the community is happy that the road is open again, they are also proud. because of the quick thinking and expertise of a road supervisor and a geologist, no one is injured or killed by the rock slide. >> i get some cold sweats from time to time thinking about all the things that could have gone wrong that day. if i had stopped for coffee, taken a little extra time for lunch before i got out to the site. the timing of everything was such that once i got there, we had time to see what was going on and get everybody out of the way before the slide occurred. >> had she not been there, those rocks would have come down not just on bill and myself, but everybody that was working that scene, all the tdot crews. it would have been a much, much different story had we have been standing in that same spot.
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coming up, winds cause this bridge to swing wildly, forcing commuters to run for their lives. >> we're watching steel and concrete half a mile long twisting 20 times a minute. >> when "caught on camera: watch out" continues. when my husband hands me a present. a galaxy s6! so i call my mom. i have verizon! i don't. she couldn't really hear me. i tell her how much she means to me. but she thinks i said she was always mean to me. i could hear how happy she was. now she definitely loves my sister more. vo: mother's day is almost here. now get 200 dollars or more when you trade in your smartphone for a galaxy s6. but hurry, this offer ends may 10th. verizon.
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it may look like special effects from an old hollywood movie, but this is real. a massive steel and concrete bridge sways and buckles, leaving commuters desperate to escape before it collapses. >> it was breathtaking. it was frightening. >> november 7th, 1940, tacoma,
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washington. it's a blustery day in puget sound, located in the northwest section of the evergreen state. winds are gusting a little more than 40 miles per hour, causing the tacoma narrow's bridge to really sway. surprising as it looks, the movement doesn't stop cars and pedestrians from crossing it. ever since the bridge's opening four months earlier, residents affectionately call her galloping gertie because of the way she dances and snakes in the wind. bridges are designed to move a little, but gertie's movements seem a bit extreme. for some residents, crossing her is like an adventure. >> it was a thrill. it was like a carnival ride. almost a roller coaster. >> historian and author richard hobbs writes about the tacoma narrows bridge in his book, "catastrophe to triumph." >> people would come out on a windy day when there was extra bounce in the bridge and walk
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across. the motion could be fairly dramatic. >> but some find that wave-like motion harrowing. >> as you drove across the bridge, you could look ahead and the car in front of you maybe 100 yards would absolutely disappear as you went down into the bottom of one of these troughs. it was unnerving to a lot of drivers. many who crossed the bridge swore it would be the last time. and on that windy autumn day in 1940, it is the last time anyone crosses that bridge. >> about 10:00, the bridge began to move in ways it had not moved before. the undulations became higher and the ripples across the bridge were verging on dangerous. >> at about 10:15 a.m., one of the bands holding the suspension cable breaks, causing the bridge to move not only up and down, but back and forth.
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>> once that started, the bridge increasingly began to twist. there was a car that had been trapped out on the bridge. a car driven by leonard coatsworth, a "tacoma tribune" editor who he was headed over to his summer cottage in the gig harbor area. in the back seat was his daughter's dog, tubby. as the bridge began to twist, it was impossible to drive. >> coatsworth tries to get out of the car, but he can't open the door, so he climbs out of the window and tries unsuccessfully to walk on the bridge. >> he didn't get very far before he realized that the situation was so dangerous, he might not get back, and he better go back for tubby. >> but the bridge twists and writhes so violently, he can't safely go back for the dog. >> he was continually being thrown to the pavement and staggering off to one side or the other, virtually crawling part of the way to the safety of
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the east tower. >> another person trying to escape from the bridge that day is professor bert farquharson. >> professor bert farquharson was a professor of engineering at the university of washington and he was an authority on bridge structures. so when eldridge and lacey murrow became concerned about how much this bridge might move, they hired bert farquharson to conduct some studies. >> as part of his study, dr. farquharson sets up film cameras a few weeks after the bridge opens to capture its movements. several weeks later, the same cameras capture the drama of the bridge's final movements as they unfold. >> the phenomenal thing is we're watching steel and concrete half a mile long twisting 20 times a minute. as the twisting increased, light poles began to dance not only
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back and forth, but to snap off. the suspender cables that went from the bridge deck to the main suspension cable itself began to snap. >> and then the unimaginable happens. the massive steel structure bends, whips and contorts so violently that it collapses into the rushing water below. both make it off the bridge alive, but not tubby. he's still in the backseat when the structure gives way. the bridge failure makes news all across the world. >> the tacoma narrows bridge dedicated in 1940 was the pride of the northwest. four months after it was opened those winds sent the bridge into a rhythmic dance of death. it literally shook it self to pieces. >> very early in the process, in
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fact before construction began, the lead engineer was very concerned about the bridge, so he began to help initiate studies by the professor at the university of washington that began to closely examine the bridge's movement. >> remedies are attempted before and after the bridge opens. >> they added cable tie downs at each end of the bridge on the approach spans. they did a good job of holding the approach spans in place. but the rest of the bridge across the center span still moved a lot. >> professor farquharson also issued an in-depth bridge study and presents two more options to stabilize the bridge, just five days before gertie collapses, but they never get the chance to implement those plans.
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tim moore, senior structural engineer for washington's department of transportation says the cause of the collapse was torsional flutter or aerodynamic instability. >> that was the vice that took the bridge down. this was a condition that no structure can maintain for a significant period of time. >> gertie is replaced by a stronger bridge in 1950, ten years after the collapse. but a part of it still survives. >> this is the side span, the approach span. this is the original galloping gertie's 1940 bridge. you can see the two eight-foot-deep section. >> many lessons are learned from gertie's demise, including how critical aerodynamics are in building suspension bridges. >> there really wasn't a major suspension bridge built until galloping gertie collapsed until
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the replacement bridge in 1950. and many of the things that exist on the 1950s bridge are a tribute to better aerodynamic stability. >> in 2007, a twin bridge is completed. the architectural look of both structures resembles the original gertie, a tribute to her grace and elegance. >> so that new bridge, as well as others have been constructed since 1940, are part of galloping gertie's legacy. coming up -- an iceberg implodes in front of a group of tourists, sending them scrambling for safety. >> we're all shouting and screaming like what? >> when "caught on camera: watch out" continues.
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>> we were all shouting and screaming. >> a giant iceberg implodes in front of his eyes, and luckily for us, in front of the lens of his small digital camera. >> the adrenaline rush was enormous. february 10th, 2012, wilhemina bay, antarctica. while on the trip to argentina, lex and his girlfriend, pietra, set out to explore the remote continent. antarctica is 720 miles from the argentinian coast. and in their words, so close. >> you should really try to go there. normally, it would be way too expensive. >> an argentinian travel group sponsors tours several times a year, particularly during the six arctic summer months from october through march. >> twice a day, you do expeditions.
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so you go in the small raft. antarctica is a different world. if you haven't been there, you can't imagine what it's like. it's so beautiful, the scenery. you have all these animals you have nowhere else in the rest of the world. you have two types of moss that grow there. that's it. yeah, it's amazing. >> although the antarctica vistas are spectacular, they're set against the backdrop of frigid weather. average temperatures on the continent hover around minus 70 degrees fahrenheit. at the time of lex's trip, it was summer and it was a bit warmer. >> it was around zero. it was really cold. the wind is really cold. the ice is really cold. a lot of layers on. jackets, scarves, hats. >> despite the bitter cold, lex and company soak in every breathtaking moment of this remarkable landscape.
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>> we were down on the raft and flowing past beautiful icebergs and islands. >> the raft circles the icebergs close enough to get a true appreciation of how enormous and imposing they really are. one in particular catches lex's eye. >> this iceberg, it was really beautiful. i think it's probably the most beautiful iceberg i saw there. everything is sort of black and white and then this really sharp blue iceberg floated in the water. they are really like sculptures. this one sort of looked like a skull in the beginning. then pieces were falling off. the group returns to the ship but is so intrigued by the particular iceberg that they go back on a second expedition that same day to get a better look at it, not knowing the extraordinary moment that is about to unfold. >> oh, cool!
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i just switched on my camera. we went again because when you're in antarctica, you want to do as much as you can. you're never going to be there again. >> when they get close, lex sees the big floating block of ice has changed. it's hollowed out because gigantic pieces of it continue to fall off more rapidly and are crashing into the water. >> oh, cool! >> pieces were falling off. it was a lot of noise. and so we were circling it for, i think maybe six minutes, something like that. and then at one point, when we actually were thinking, okay, nothing is going to happen. >> and just when lex thinks the dramatic show is over, the iceberg gives an unexpected finale.
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>> it just fell apart. it was a perfect implosion. and these big chunks of ice just were thrown towards us. like the iceberg spat them out. >> the giant iceberg collapses, plunging into the deep, frigid water. it's a frightening scenario because the impact from the implosion could easily overturn the little raft. despite the danger, lex isn't feeling fear. >> the adrenaline rush was enormous. we were all shouting and screaming. >> quickly, the tour guides maneuver the raft away from the falling chunks of ice and any potential large waves.
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>> you can still see some chunks hitting the boat. >> after the ice stops raining down on the boat, sheer excitement takes over. >> this is a very old iceberg, if you can imagine such a thing. >> geologist and hartwick college professor robert titus analyzes lex's footage and says the iceberg had all the telltale signs of an impending breakdown. >> now what's happening here is this iceberg drifted into warm water. the warmth of the surrounding water caused the ice to expand and to contract and to fracture and to crack. and by the time these people got there, the whole thing simply collapsed. >> lex uploads his incredible shot to youtube and within one month, he gets 200,000 views.
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sometimes it takes traveling thousands of miles away from home to be in the right place at the right time. >> i was really lucky. and just -- yeah, happened to hold the camera and be happy to show it to the rest of the world. coming up -- residents of a small italian town run for their lives to escape a massive landslide. when "caught on camera: watch out" continues.
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i'm richard lui with the top stories. a vie lant day in tel-aviv. demonstrations came in response to a viral video showing an israeli police officer beating an ethiopian israeli soldier.
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a suspect who shot a new york police officer appeared in court today. the victim, officer brian moore is in critical, but stable condition. now, back to caught on camera. a massive river of mud, trees and dirt flows down a mountain side, threatening a small town. forcing people to run for their lives. february 15th, 2010, italy. the ancient town has had its share of landslides, but after nine days of relentless rain, residents are bracing for what looks like an unprecedented disaster.
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husband and wife journalist are called to cover the unfolding story by the mayor of the town. >> translator: the mayor that i was acquainted with urged me to go and see it. however, it was a period of strong torrential rains that continued for days and days and there were landslides just about everywhere. so we decided to do different ones and wait. >> by the time they arrived, most of the small town of 200 is evacuated, but people remain near the danger zone, not expecting the hillside to come down. astonished at the scene unfolding in front of her, patrizia grabs her camera from the back of her car and starts shoot ing. >> translator: in the distance, i framed a high-voltage pole that very slowly began to descend, descend, descend until it finally toppled over. that's when we realized that this was something much more serious than we could imagine. >> what she sees through her
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camera's viewfinder is something out of a biblical text. the earth buckles, waves and moves like an ocean. >> translator: little by little, we saw the hill start to crumble, and then at a certain point, suddenly the mountain came tumbling down. i don't know if i realized it or i hadn't realized it, i planted myself there with a television camera on my shoulder and record it. >> the civilian protection men try to block them from shooting, but they just keep on working. >> translator: at a certain point, we heard a deafening noise far away. and then this imposing immense landslide. i have to tell the truth, i didn't check my words. [ speaking in italian ]
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luckily, i didn't say anything strange, and we went live, recording video and audio. and reporting what is an immediate sensation, because that was precisely the effect. something unimaginable, unforeseeable was happening before our eyes. and it was huge. [ speaking italian ] >> geologist and hartwick college professor robert titus explain this geological phenomenon. >> i think this was an extraordinary landslide, first for the power that it displayed. you saw waves, choppy waves of soil moving up and down, sliding by at a remarkable rate of speed. any human being, any person, any animal in the way would have been killed. any house, any home, any
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building would have surely been destroyed. >> titus says the heavy and prolonged rainfall over several days prior to the landslide saturated the ground, turning the solid limestone rock and clay soil into an oozing muck. >> this explains why this is such a rapid -- almost astonishing rapid event. it's almost like watching water flow by. >> wave after wave of soil, rock and trees break off and crumble down the mountain. the landslide keeps going and going and going. this scene lasts for 30 minutes, and patrizia and mauricio record it all. >> translator: the effect was truly hypnotic because of what was happening. to tell you the truth, we accepted the truth only after we saw the images later. >> despite some people choosing not to evacuate, nobody is injured or killed and perhaps
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more astonishing, no homes are lost. >> translator: we were in an area totally outside of the town. the last house that's visible is precisely the last house in town. there's nothing beyond that point. there's only a road that links it with another town that now doesn't exist anymore either. >> after they visit the landslide area two years later, they are concerned that no repairs have been done. the road is still not fixed and the mountainside is not secured. mauricio is especially affected since he was born here and still has family there. >> translator: sometimes i go back there. it also happens that i go back to that area. i must tell the truth, it upsets me, because two years later, i thought something would have been done. nothing has been done and i'm very sorry about that. >> geologists say landslides of this magnitude are somewhat unpredictable.
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but luckily for the people of this town, everyone survived this one. [ shouting in italian ] coming up -- fear strikes tinseltown when an enormous sinkhole opens up in the middle of hollywood boulevard. >> my first concern was anybody killed or injured in the hole. >> when "caught on camera: watch out" continues. but when i started having back pain, my sister had to come help. i don't like asking for help. i took tylenol but i had to take six pills to get through the day. so my daughter brought over some aleve. it's just two pills, all day! and now, i'm back! aleve. two pills. all day strong, all day long. and for a good night's rest, try aleve pm for a better am. (mom) when our little girl was we got a subaru.
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a dry mouth can be a side effect of many medications. but it can also lead to tooth decay and bad breath. that's why there's biotene, available as an oral rinse, toothpaste, spray or gel. biotene can provide soothing relief and it helps keep your mouth healthy too. remember, while your medication is doing you good, a dry mouth isn't biotene, for people who suffer from a dry mouth. an underground construction accident creates a giant sink hole that swallows up a busy street. catching a city by surprise. >> i would have fell right in. >> my staff and i were out on the street going, oh, this looks like this could be really bad. >> june 22, 1995, hollywood, california.
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tinseltown brings to mind the image of big homes, big stars, and the iconic hollywood sign. but this unfolding disaster is not happening in the hollywood hills or on an expensive soundstage. >> that part of hollywood is not the glamour part of hollywood. we call it east hollywood here in los angeles. it's more residential. it's more community. >> jackie goldberg is a former los angeles city councilwoman. in 1995, she represents a district where the city is building a subway. it's one of the largest public works projects of its time, and some of the constituents are complaining about it. >> we don't need a metro rail as they are proposing it. let's get back to the buses where the people can be moved around properly. >> not only are residents complaining, but so are the business owners. for them, it's less about the
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subway itself than the construction. they're losing money. >> it takes so long to build these things underground and you don't have much choice but to tear streets up and close streets. businesses were putting big signs on their property saying, "open for business during construction" because it looked like you couldn't get there. and people were angry. >> so when a water main breaks at the construction site on hollywood boulevard, goldberg holds a press conference to bring attention to the problem. >> i will be introducing -- >> as goldberg stands in front of news cameras, the water main problem suddenly gets much worse. >> we were actually not far from the actual location that morning. some people were very concerned that a lot of water was being pumped out from under the soil involved. so we had engineers and technical people all explaining that this was going to be fine, and then crack. >> the crack she hears is the sound of the roadway caving into the subway tunnel under construction.
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mud, rocks, dirt and water cascade down into a big hole, exposing sensitive utility pipes. the news crews on site capture the dramatic event as it unfolds. >> my first concern was was anybody killed or injured in the hole. it turns out, though they were working in there, when they heard the crack they all moved away from the street to be sure that nothing was going to happen. >> the crater keeps expanding until it measures 70 feet wide and 70 feet deep. as the hole grows in size, so does goldberg's anxiety. her biggest fear is the exposed gas lines. >> we have all the gas company people out there to start shutting off gas lines around the area. you break a water line, you get water. you break an electric thing, you might get a live wire down there. but gas explodes. so we got the gas turned off
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pretty darn quickly and that's why there were no explosions in the surrounding area. >> the neighboring streets are shut down to traffic and about 70 patients are evacuated from a nearby hospital. although people in the area are inconvenienced, no one is injured or killed. city and state investigations conclude that the sink hole is caused by the water main break, but there's still debate about whether it was caused by corrosion of the aging main or triggered by subway construction. >> whatever it was, it was a broken main. not just the pipe but the main. that's one of these things that carry lots of volume. and that water had been coming in for some time before it was detected. >> crews repair the water main, fill the hole with concrete and repair the road. hollywood boulevard becomes a bustling thoroughfare once again. in 1999, four years later, the
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red line stop at hollywood and western is finally completed. passengers ride the trains and all's well in the city of angels. coming up -- an entire industrial building collapses from heavy snow as employees run for their lives. >> it sounded like a freight train coming. when "caught on camera: watch out" continues. try nexium® 24hr. the latest choice for frequent heartburn. get complete protection. nexium level protection.
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a huge industrial building collapses under the weight of heavy snow. >> wow. i can't believe this has occurred. >> but the terrifying question is -- >> oh my gosh, is everybody okay? did everyone get out? february 3rd, 2011, easton, massachusetts.
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the northeast experiences one of the worst winters in years. snowfall averages in region break records. peter howe is a reporter for new england cable news in newton, massachusetts. >> it was a horrible winter. i can't remember what the first snow was, but it was probably november. it started snowing. it kept snowing every five days. it never got warm enough for it to melt. the snow piled up and piled up and piled up. >> that morning a snowy, icy rain is falling. howe and cameraman brian butler are sent to cover potential roof collapses all over the county. >> we knew the day before there may be some roof problems because of all the snow on roofs and the added weight of the water and the assignment desk called us. they said there's a building in easton, massachusetts. can you head over that way? and we said sure. >> they arrive at the triton technology building a few minutes before 11:00 a.m., and are astonished to see the entire building is buckling. >> we had been hearing
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extraordinary sounds. just kind of groaning, creaking, the twisting of metal, bricks literally popping out of the front of the building as the wall falls in. >> howe wonders, is there anyone still in the building? the building is the east coast hub of tritan technologies, a 24-hour call center with about 100 employees. tritan's chief legal counsel, kathleen dias, works at the facility. she hadn't yet arrived but employees called her, alarmed by the loud noises the brick building is making. >> somebody described it like a freight train coming, and then the fire alarms went off. it was really people looking up at the ceiling and seeing ceiling tiles moving and going, that's not normal. something really serious is going on here. >> a supervisor ordered everyone out of their seats and hurries them to an exit. >> luckily, we have a sales manager on the floor who heard the noises and literally stood
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up and started shouting at people to get out of the building and grabbed people by the shoulders as they were sitting in their chairs and got their attention and pushed people out the door. >> it's only a few minutes after the last employee leaves that the building starts to fall. >> the wall of the building was bowed and it was slowly falling backwards away from us. >> you could hear glass beginning to crack as the strain of the building is going on itself. >> probably a 30-foot wall, 30 feet high, just slowly leaning back in a bowed position. >> and all of a sudden, everything accelerates. and it goes from creak, creak, bang to just the whole thing just falls. it's easily the most extraordinary thing i've been there to witness.
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>> tritan loses an office building but no lives. the company credits quick-thinking staff with getting everyone out in time. jay nally is tritan's president and ceo. >> we had to do some very extraordinary things to make sure everybody out of the building safely. >> some of the employees did understand the seriousness of the situation and had the presence of mind to react to it. a 100-year-old building collapses in the middle of a busy city sending firefighters scrambling for safety. >> there's a gut feeling. i knew something would happen. >> may 5th, 1997. new york city. more than 200 firefighters are called to the scene of an unrelenting blaze in the heart
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of manhattan's garment district. it starts in the cramped, narrow basement of a shoe store which is packed to capacity with highly flammable material. the century old building has no sprinkler system. >> the fire was so heavy in the base men that we tried to put it out with foam. there were so many heavy boxes of storage. heavy boxes of mostly shoes we think stored up to the ceiling. >> retired assistant chief harry norum was one of the commanders overseeing operations that day. >> they went to the staircase inside. because there was no exterior openings. so now the officer takes four or five men into the cellar. the boxes were falling down into the area of escape. so first the chief says okay, let's get out of the cellar. >> they are forced to fight the fire from the outside, but even that has its risks. norum is concerned the old
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building will not be able to withstand the heat of the fire, and the weight of the water being pumped in to fight it. >> we were providing 500 gallons per minute at these locations. which leads to the dead load in the building. >> the city's buildings department tells norum that the structure is stable because there aren't any cracks or bulges in the walls but he doesn't take any chances and establishes a wide perimeter or collapse zone around it. >> we moved those trucks, the tower ladders, the pieces of equipment and the hose lines away from the building to the other side of the street. >> firefighters are also repositioned across the street and continue their efforts to control the blaze. norum's instincts are right. after nine hours of fire and thousands of gallons of water pumped in, the walls suddenly give way, raining bricks and debris on the street below. >> the initial sound to me was like a crack.
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then a rumble. and then, of course, everything became physical. you could see the interior collapsed. of course then it pulled the wall down in a curtain-like fashion. >> residents are grateful there are no fatalities or serious injuries, but the loss of homes and businesses is a blow. >> your life is gone. everything that you are building. everything that you had, everything is just gone. >> for chief norum, the collapse emphasizes an important caution, there are often hidden hazards behind the fire and smoke. >> it's very, very important that people in the area, especially firefighters and other agency people know that the dangers don't subside after fire is brought under control.
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what's it like to go full throttle? >> it's a lightning jolt going through your body. >> to lose control at 370 miles an hour? >> i was immediately in shock. i was scared. >> cameras capture speed demons who excel at accelerating. >> i thought, this is it. this is me dead. >> and face the consequences. >> it was naturally, yeah, it was naturally as [ bleep ]. >> high stakes stunts. >> that was


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