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Florida building collapse survivor search continues into the night

SURFSIDE, Fla. (NewsNation Now) — The search for survivors continues after part of a 12-story condo building in Florida collapsed early Thursday morning. Officials say 99 people are still missing and 102 have been found.

One death has been confirmed, and Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said there would not be another update until 7 a.m. ET Friday.

Cava did say at 8:30 p.m. ET Thursday that rescuers would be working into the night trying to find anyone who may still be trapped.

Rescue teams are using sonar devices to listen for signs of movement in the rubble, but Miami-Dade Assistant Fire Chief Raide Jadallah at a news conference said they do not hear voices.

“We did receive sounds. Not necessarily people talking, but, sounds,” Jadallah said. He said the bangs could be people, but there’s no way to be sure.


Crews are now facing the perilous task of creeping through the compromised Champlain Towers South Condo. A video posted on Miami-Dade Fire Rescue’s Twitter page shows responders knee-deep in water working on a section of the building where the roof has sunk to eye-level.

“Every time we make a breach underneath the ground we do have some debris that rains down on the firefighters,” Jadallah said.

One couple that escaped the collapse were worried they were trapped when they went to the bottom floor only to find that pool of water.

“I couldn’t walk out past my doorway,” said Barry Cohen, 63, the former vice mayor of Surfside. “A gaping hole of rubble.”

The couple returned upstairs, screaming for help. There were eventually brought to safety on a cherry-picker that firefighters used to lower people to the ground, he said.

This aerial photo shows part of the 12-story oceanfront Champlain Towers South Condo that collapsed early Thursday, June 24, 2021 in Surfside, Fla. (Amy Beth Bennett /South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)

The first crews to arrive at the scene told their dispatch it looked like 9/11.

“I see many people on their balconies,” the first responder told dispatch. “The building is gone, there’s just nothing. I mean it almost resembles the [World] Trade Center.”

The big question is why the building collapsed, and Cava was not ready to answer that at a Thursday afternoon news conference.

“We want to understand what happened but also what risks there might be for the remaining buildings,” she said. “So it’s a structural engineering question.”

Miami-Dade police will not begin their investigation into the cause until the search and rescue teams finish their mission.


Gov. 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.

Community leaders are stepping up to help victims’ families. Miami Heat guard Tyler Herro and assistant coaches Chris Quinn and Eric Glass donated a truck with food and water.

“This has been a very sad day for us in our community,” Miami-Dade Board Chairman Jose Diaz said. “But it’s also a day that we can see this community come together and provide the very best in support of a very bad and ugly situation.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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