Miami-Dade building collapse: at least 1 dead, nearly 100 missing in Surfside, Florida, officials say
At least 99 people were missing Thursday afternoon, according to Miami-Dade Police spokesman Alvaro Zabaleta.
At least one person has died from the collapse, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said. A total of 102 people were counted, she said. The mayor said the cause of the collapse was not known.
Two people were pulled from the rubble, Miami-Dade Deputy Fire Chief Ray Jadallah said, not to mention their medical condition.
Rescuers helped a boy living in the debris, a witness said, and a video showed responders helping others to leave the standing parts of the building, sometimes using a bucket atop a fire truck ladder.
State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis said Thursday afternoon rescuers had heard noises coming from the rubble earlier. One of the sounds is from an individual in the parking lot they are having trouble getting to, he said.
“It’s a bit hit and miss,” he said. “You are stepping into the area where you are so passionate and so focused and so determined to make sure that you are doing all you can to save a life in an event like this.”
Besides the two pulled from the rubble, 35 others were helped from standing parts of the building, Jadallah said.
Jadallah told reporters at an afternoon press conference that search and rescue teams were working in a parking lot under the rubble.
He said teams had used search dogs, sonar and cameras on the rubble, but the garage has better access to the places they need to start cutting material and carrying out other search measures, create tunnels to reach trapped people. They couldn’t find any voids in the rubble at the top, he said.
As night approached, however, some helmeted workers could be seen from a CNN-affiliated WPLG helicopter at the edge of the rubble, digging through the debris and moving stones, wood and mattresses.
Operations will run through the night and new crews will come in the morning, Jadallah said.
County commission vice chairman Oliver Gilbert spoke on behalf of many at a late afternoon press conference.
“I must implore everyone: just pray.”
Video appears to show sections of the building collapsing
Third-floor resident Barry Cohen heard what he thought was an explosion. His apartment was intact, but when he opened his door and tried to leave, he “looked down the hall … and there was nothing there,” he said.
“It was just a pile of dust and rubble,” and the building shook as it waited for help, Cohen told CNN’s “New Day.”
After about 20 minutes, a rescue team used a lifting platform to help him, his wife and another resident from a balcony, he said.
Four people were taken to hospitals and at least seven others were treated on the spot, Jadallah said.
The cause of the collapse was not immediately known. The building was undergoing work on the roof, but it is not known if this was a factor in the collapse, said Surfside Mayor Charles W. Burkett. Work was underway to meet “40-year standards,” a tightening of the building code – regarding updates and improvements – passed after Hurricane Andrew in 1992, Miami-Dade County Commissioner said , Sally Heyman.
It was built in 1981, according to Miami-Dade online property records.
The affected area is predominantly Jewish, and rabbis and chaplains are in the area to help, Levine Cava said.
Levine Cava said the hotline has been set up for people trying to get information about loved ones who may have been in the building: 305-614-1819.
Governor Ron DeSantis issued a declaration of state of emergency to authorize state resources for disaster response.
Witness finds boy and brings rescuers to him
Witness Nicholas Balboa told CNN he saw a boy’s shaking fingers stick out of the debris shortly after the collapse – a finding that led to the child’s rescue.
Balboa, who lives nearby, said he was walking his dog around 1:30 or 1:40 a.m. when he felt the ground shake and saw plumes of dust and debris. He and another man went to the back of the building. While he doubted anyone could survive the collapse, he heard someone screaming, he said.
Finally, I got close enough to hear it, and (the trapped boy) said, ‘Can you see my hand? “” Balboa told CNN’s “New Day.”
“He was raising his hand… through the debris. And I could see his hand and his fingers wiggling.”
Balboa and the other man summoned a police officer and other rescuers eventually arrived, Balboa said.
The boy, who was under a mattress and bed frame when he was found, has been removed, he said.
Video captured by ReliableNewsMedia shows rescuers helping a survivor out of the rubble – it was not immediately clear if this was the boy Balboa described.
A rescuer put an arm under what looked like a collapsed wall, his metal reinforcement bars now pointing skyward, to help the survivor, who was wearing a dark shirt and pajama pants.
The survivor slowly bent down, resting his body on a rescuer’s right shoulder and draping his legs over the larger person’s chest, the video from ReliableNewsMedia shows. Then the survivor was lowered onto a white stretcher and helped the rescue team secure the orange straps. The team took the person away.
Soon after, at least six stories higher, a trio of survivors and what looked like a dog climbed from a balcony into the bucket atop the raised ladder of a fire engine. The bucket then slowly lowered.
“We just see a cloud of dust coming towards us”
Shmuel Balkany was walking with his brothers and his dog when “we hear a really big growl,” he told ReliableNewsMedia.
“And we think it was a motorcycle – like, classic, early in the morning – and we turn around and we just see a cloud of dust coming towards us. And we just wonder, what’s going on? we, like, we start to rush over there. We pull our shirts over our face so that we don’t get dust, in our eyes and things. “
“What we saw from the start was a huge cloud of smoke and a lot of noise,” added Mich Balkany, who was also on, reported ReliableNewsMedia.
“We saw it happen. It was by far the most horrible thing I have seen. I was alive for September 11th. I didn’t see it happen in real life. have seen something like this happen and it’s the closest thing I can understand to 9/11, ”Mich Balkany said. “This is something that is absolutely crazy … crazy, crazy, crazy, crazy.”
Shmuel Balkany added: “We have friends who have family who live in the building. We don’t even know if they’re okay. Some of them are okay. We don’t know if the others are okay. . “
“It’s very shocking. We are shaken up. We are quite shaken up. It is not yet transforming in our minds,” said Shmuel Balkany.
CNN’s Leyla Santiago reported from Surfside; Amanda Watts and Jason Hanna have reported and written from Atlanta. Rosa Flores, Paul P. Murphy, Melissa Alonso, John Couwels, Gregory Lemos, Steve Almasy, Michelle Krupa, Joe Sutton and Hannah Sarisohn contributed to this report.