Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava offered a touch of “good news” 15 hours after the collapse of a 12-story residential condo in Surfside, Fla., saying 102 people have now been accounted for from the towers. “Their locations are known and that they are safe,” Cava said at a news conference at around 4:30 p.m. ET. She said teams would continue searching the location overnight.
Ninety-nine people are still unaccounted for since the building split and a part of it came crashing down within the early morning hours of Thursday. County police have confirmed that one person is dead. Miami-Dade Fire Rescue posted a video of searchers within the flooded basement of the structure. Fire Rescue Asst. Chief Ray Jadallah said rescue workers have shifted efforts from searching from above the rubble to below. He said a parking structure under the building is offering new pathways into the mass of debris.
Since firefighters arrived on the scene at 1:48 a.m. civil time, 37 people are pulled from the structure alive. Jadallah called it a slow, dangerous and methodical process, adding that as a number of the firefighters shift piles of rubble in search of victims, small fires have Cava said federal help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency is on the way. The mayor said she signed an emergency order that’s now on Gov. Ron DeSantis’s desk. Crews are working with structural engineers to make new pathways into the decimated building using sonar devices and search cameras. Officials said they need heard “sounds” coming from the within , and what might be banging. But they haven’t heard any voices.
The collapse brought many first responders racing to the beachfront property. Fire and rescue officials said approximately 55 apartment units were destroyed by the collapse inside the Champlain Towers South complex, a 40-year-old building that houses quite 136 units in total. Miami-Dade County Commissioner Sally Heyman told NPR that simply because someone is unaccounted for doesn’t suggest the person remains within the building — they’ll are far away from home for any number of reasons, like work or travel.
Authorities asked that residents who are safe outside the building to submit a Wellness Check Form so crews do not have to look for them. The collapse occurred around 1:30 a.m. Video obtained by local news station WSVN shows the building caving in on itself over a span of just 15 seconds, leaving plenty of rubble and a huge plume of dust and debris. “It seems like a bomb went off,” Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett told NBC’s Today show.
Burkett said rescue workers have brought in dogs to assist with the look for survivors but “tragically, there haven’t been hits for the dogs, and that is an excellent disappointment.” “Apparently, when the building decreased, it pancaked, so there’s just not tons of voids that they are finding or seeing from the surface,” the mayor said. Video and pictures showed a scene like a combat zone, with the whole east-side section of the complex nearly entirely obliterated. Empty beds and mangled air-con units dangled from the wreckage, as rescuers searched the rubble below for survivors.