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One dead after restaurant interior collapses in New Jersey

By David Jones

MAPLEWOOD New Jersey (Reuters) - Falling rubble killed one construction worker and another was seriously injured when the interior of a restaurant collapsed in Maplewood, New Jersey, on Friday, a fire department official said.

The two men were installing a staircase in the basement at Coda Kitchen and Bar when part of the ceiling collapsed on top of them, said Maplewood Fire Chief Michael Dingelstedt.

Firefighters rescued the injured worker, who was taken to a hospital with serious injuries but was expected to survive, Dingelstedt said. The other worker, identified as Guo Tai Chen, died from his injuries at the scene, he said.

A third construction worker and a restaurant manager escaped from the one-story building unscathed.

The restaurant is on a quaint strip of cafes and nail salons in downtown Maplewood, a middle-class suburb less than 20 miles (32 km) from New York City.

John Chung, the owner of Bagel Chateau, which is opposite the restaurant, said construction had been going on in the basement for about two weeks.

Firefighters evacuated several nearby businesses while they checked other buildings for structural damage, local business owners said.

The restaurant owner could not immediately be contacted.

(Writing by Jonathan Allen; Editing by James Dalgleish)