July 9, 1988 – A day full of painstaking searches. First; Brownsville Texas, where a department store roof collapsed under the alleged stress of collecting rainwater. Seems rooftop drains were clogged and a downpour the previous day proved to be too much. Authorities were searching for dead, injured and survivors as the collapsed claimed 16 so far with nearly 50 hurt. Two more bodies were pulled out of the rubble overnight and attempts were being made to recover four more. Brownsville city spokespeople said rescue crews tunneled through the night in the search for more victims. City officials speculated the accumulation of rainwater from a downpour the previous day may have accelerated the situation, however the official cause of the collapse wouldn’t be determined until a full investigation could be completed.
And in the North Sea, hope was all but abandoned for the 149 crewmen still missing in the wake of an explosion and fire aboard an oil rig. 17 bodies had been recovered, but three-quarters of the structure sank and authorities believed most of the missing were trapped inside. The search for bodies was called off as attention shifted to capping underwater leaks from the wreckage that continued to cause fires. Four separate investigations were already underway to determine how the loss of life could have been prevented. Oil Fire expert Red Adair was aboard the Piper Alpha Oil rig after spending the night on a support vessel nearby. Adair designed some of the safety systems when the rig was being built and recommended separating the living quarters from the production areas. But the company (Occidental Petroleum) simply reinforced the walls, saying it met the legal specification for rigs built in 1976. However, Occidental’s Chairman Armand Hammer said the company’s investigation of the disaster may force a change in design.
And new information concerning the alleged bribery and fraud scandal involving Defense Department procurement contracts bubbled to the surface. It indicated the investigation was focusing on events much earlier than first reported and possibly went much higher within the department. Latest information by the FBI said payments were being made to Assistant Navy Secretary and later Defense Department consultant Melvyn Paisley; payments made both during and after his government service. Newly released evidence indicated the scandal had been going on since the beginning of the Reagan Administration. Paisley served as Assistant Navy Secretary from 1981 to 1987, during the height of the Reagan Defense buildup.
And that’s just a sample of what went on, this July 9, 1988 as reported by The CBS World News Roundup.