After part of a Kailua Intermediate School ceiling fell yesterday on students and teachers, the area leading to the Building C classroom was cordoned off.

Kailua school
ceiling falls

» Eight Kailua Intermediate
students and a teacher are hurt
» Other classrooms will be investigated
during the weekend

Check for updates

The latest on repairs to the building where a ceiling fell will be posted on the school's marquee and its Web site (www.k12.hi.us/~kailuain). The school's phone recording, at 263-1500, will also have information if there is a closure.

A Kailua Intermediate classroom's ceiling crashed on 13 students and their teacher yesterday after corroded wires that held up the ceiling's framework gave way, officials said.

Eight students and their homeroom teacher were taken to Castle Medical Center for minor injuries, which included cuts and bruises, fire and school officials said.

An additional nine students -- four from an adjacent second-floor classroom -- were also taken to the hospital as a precaution for asbestos decontamination. Officials said last night that there was no asbestos in the affected classroom or building.

All of the students and the teacher were treated and released. At least one student required stitches for a deep laceration, said state Department of Education spokesman Greg Knudsen.

The ceiling collapsed at about 12:05 p.m. after the corroded wire -- which held up a metal and plaster framework for acoustic ceiling tiles -- apparently snapped, Knudsen said.

Between two-thirds and three-fourths of the ceiling came crashing down, said Fire Battalion Chief Lionel Camara.

News crews took shots yesterday of a Kailua Intermediate School building in which a classroom ceiling collapsed at about noon, sending students and a teacher to Castle Medical Center.

Last year, some of the classroom's ceiling tiles were replaced as part of a renovation of the 50-year-old Kailua middle school, said Principal Suzanne Mulcahy. Knudsen said it is unlikely that the wire corrosion was detected during the renovation.

Cleanup crews are expected to investigate this weekend what caused the wires to corrode and whether the problem extends to other classrooms in the building.

Knudsen said the corrosion could be related to damage from a January 2004 storm that blew off a portion of the roof at the opposite end of the affected classroom's building. It could also have been caused by a leaky portion of the roof nearer to the corner classroom, a problem crews fixed in March, officials said.

The ceiling collapsed shortly after the classroom's eighth-graders had finished lunch.

Art "I heard a crack and the roof had fallen down, and a whole bunch of people were stuck under their desks," said Morgan Bruce, who was in the classroom. "Some of them started crying. ... Everything was going crazy."

After the incident, parents rushed to the school, fearing their children were among those injured.

"I was in a panic," said Mary Scott Lau, whose son was heading to his homeroom in the affected classroom when the ceiling collapsed.

Students congregated in small groups on the school's front lawn yesterday afternoon to tell each other what they had seen. Some had friends who had been taken to the hospital; others were set to go to the affected classroom later in the day.

"It sounded like a whip of wind," said Jasmine Mahi-Beamer, an eighth-grader who was near the door of the classroom when the ceiling fell in. "I heard everyone screaming," she added, "and then I ran."

Jessica Galdeira, a seventh-grader, said she was in a nearby classroom when she heard what sounded like an explosion.

"Everybody rushed outside to see what happened," she said. "There was a couple of people screaming."

She said she looked into the room and saw "debris on the desks, and everywhere was a whole bunch of white dirty stuff." That peek cost Galdeira a trip to Castle Medical Center for a decontamination shower.

After the classroom's ceiling collapsed, the building was evacuated. Displaced students waited out the rest of the day on the school's basketball courts or in the gym.

"We're so grateful that there are no serious injuries," said Mulcahy, who spent much of the afternoon reassuring students, parents and staff members. She said counseling services would be provided for students and teachers left shaken by the incident.

The school will likely reopen Tuesday, after a scheduled holiday on Monday.

The affected wing of Building C, where the classroom is located, will remain closed until all repairs are completed. Students who have classes in that wing Tuesday morning should report to the office for new room assignments.

Star-Bulletin writer Diana Leone contributed to this report.

State Department of Education

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