The Associated Press is reporting that Cologne, Germany's six-story city archive building groaned then collapsed in a pile of rubble Tuesday as people inside fled in panic. All managed to escape safely but police said three people were feared missing in other damaged buildings nearby.
The archive building collapsed about 2 p.m., ripping open and dragging down parts of two adjacent buildings that contained apartments and an amusement arcade. A huge cloud of dust enveloped the site.
Alerted by rumbling sounds that preceded the collapse, all staff and visitors at the Cologne archive were able to get out in time without injuries, fire department director Stephan Neuhoff said.
There was no immediate word on the condition of the archive's contents, but a regional government official, Lutz Lienenkaemper, promised help in salvaging them. Cologne has archive material going back over centuries, including manuscripts by communist pioneers Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels and documents related to German writer Heinrich Boell.
You can read more, as well as view photos, at http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5gCt3VjxRz11DYrr9VlDKlzf3nIWgD96MQ2EG1.
UPDATE: CNN also has a story and pictures. The CNN story states, "Rescuers do not know if anyone is alive in the rubble."
The main building which collapsed is the Historic Archive of the city of Cologne, which houses documents up to 1,000 years old.
You can read more at: http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/europe/03/03/germany.cologne.building.collapse/index.html.