Miami: 1 dead, 99 People Missing In Condo Collapse
Rescuers are continuing to look for survivors, it is unclear what caused the structure to fail.
A wing of a twelve 12 story beachfront condo building collapsed with a roar in a town outside the Miami early Thursday, killing at least one person and then trapping residents in rubble and twisted metal. Rescuers pulled out dozens of survivors and continued to look for more. Nearly 100 people were still unaccounted for at midday,
authorities said, raising fears that the death toll could climb sharply. Officials did not know how many were in the tower when it fell around 1:30 am local time [04:30 GMT]. The building is literally pancaked, Burkett said. That is heartbreaking because it doesn’t mean to me that we are going to be as successful as we wanted to
be in finding people alive and hours after the collapse, searchers were trying to reach a trapped child whose parents were also believed to be dead. In another case, rescuers saved a mother and child, but the woman’s leg had to be amputated to remove her from the rubble, Frank Rollason, director of the Miami-Dade Emergency
Management, told the Miami Herald. The Governor Ron DeSantis, who toured the scene, said television did not capture the scale of what happened. Rescue crews are doing everything they can to save lives. That is ongoing, and they’re not going to rest, he said. Teams of 10 to 12 rescuers were entering the rubble at a time with dogs
and other equipment, working until they tire from the heavy lifting, then making way for a new team, said the Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, the state’s fire marshal. Earlier Miami Dade Fire Rescue Chief Ray Jadallah said the destruction affected 55 of the building’s 136 apartment units and 35 people who were trapped in the building were rescued, including two
who were pulled from under the rubble and taken to the hospital. Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said she got a call from President Joe Biden, who offered federal aid. Hotels also opened to some of the displaced residents, she said, and deliveries of food, medicine and more were being hastily arranged. Rescue officials tried to determine how many people might be missing and asked residents to check in with them.
Aerial view showing part of the 12-storey oceanfront Champlain Towers South Condo that collapsed early on Thursday in Surfside, Florida
Renovations under way
Officials said although it appears that work was being done on the building’s roof, the cause of the collapse remains unknown. Officials have urged people to report missing people by calling a number of a “unification centre” that has been set up. Nicolas Fernandez was waiting for a word on close family friends who lived in the collapsed section of the building. Since it happened,
I’ve been calling them nonstop, just trying to ring their cellphones as much as we can to help the rescue to see if they can hear the cellphones. The collapse left a number of apartments in the still-standing part of the building exposed. Television footage showed bunk beds, tables and chairs still left inside the damaged apartments. Air-conditioner units were hanging from some parts of the building, where wires now dangled.
Rubble hangs from the partially collapsed building in Surfside north of Miami Beach
Barry Cohen, 63, said he and his wife were asleep in the building when he first heard what he thought was a crack of lightning. The couple went onto their balcony, then opened the door to the building’s hallway to find a pile of rubble and dust and smoke billowing around. I couldn’t walk out past my doorway, said Cohen, the
former vice mayor of Surfside. A gaping hole of rubble. He and his wife eventually made it to the basement and found rising water there also. They returned upstairs, screamed for help and were eventually brought to safety by firefighters using a cherry picker. Cohen said he raised concerns years ago about whether nearby construction might be causing damage to the building
after seeing cracked pavers on the pool deck. The collapse appeared to affect one leg of the L-shaped tower. Piles of rubble and debris surrounded the area just outside the building, and cars up to two blocks away were coated with a light layer of dust from the debris. The seaside condo development was built in 1981 in the southeast corner of Surfside.