Sunday, March 08, 2009

Update on the Collapsed Cologne Archive

Christian Hillen, who has been on the scene of the collapsed archive building in Cologne, Germany, has reported to that more than 100 books from the medieval chronicles collection have been recovered undamaged so far. Furthermore, more than 200 folders with manuscript fragments (they were fragments before the disaster) were recovered also almost undamaged, while other manuscripts were found wet and needed to be shock frozen so they could be treated and preserved at another location. Mr. Hillen explains that debris is being removed from the site of the collapsed archive, and taken by truck to a recycling, where he and other volunteers search through the concrete and rubble for the paper and other archived materials. He adds that "spirits are quite high" among the workers, and that they expect more volunteers to arrive next week who will help speed up the process.

Meanwhile, the body of a 17-year-old man was recovered early Sunday, March 8, under the rubble where the Cologne city archive building had collapsed. He had been in the top-floor apartment of an adjacent building at the time of the incident. According to an autopsy conducted Sunday afternoon, the young man likely died immediately in his sleep as the house caved in.

A second man, 24, who lived in the same apartment building, has been missing since the city archives collapsed on Tuesday. The search for his body is still underway, with workers hopeful it may be found in the vicinity of the first victim. Search efforts, which couldn't begin until late Friday, were severely hindered by rain and the instability of the site and of neighboring buildings.

Finally, officials from the city of Cologne have confirmed that the contents of the archive were insured for about 400 million euros.

For the initial story about the collapse of Cologne's archive, click here.