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More than 150 missing in Miami condo collapse

June 25, 2021

Rescue teams are sifting through the rubble of a building that collapsed near Miami, searching for survivors trapped in the debris. With dozens of people still missing, authorities fear the death toll could rise.

A general view of the partial collapse of a building in Miami, Florida
Rescuers and sniffer dogs continue to scour the site, with over 150 people unaccounted forImage: mpi04/MediaPunch/picture alliance

Emergency crews in Miami continued to search for survivors on Friday after an oceanfront condominium partially collapsed a day prior.

Rescue efforts in the city, located in the southern US state of Florida, have been complicated by rainy weather and unstable debris.

What is the latest?

  • At least four people were killed, but authorities say the figures could rise further.
  • Officials say 159 people remain missing, while at least 35 people have been rescued.
  • Rescue operations are still ongoing, with teams working overnight to search for survivors.
  • Firefighters face "extreme risk" in combing through the rubble, as "debris is falling on them," said Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava.
Location of the site of a building collapse in Miami, Florida

What do we know about the collapse?

A beachfront apartment building partially collapsed around 1:30 am (0530 GMT) on Thursday in the community of Surfside, trapping scores of people.

The 12-story building, called Champlain Towers South, drew travelers from around the world.

The tenants included a mixture of seasonal renters and full-time residents.

Part of the 12-story oceanfront Champlain Towers South Condo,
Officials did not know how many people were in the 12-story building at the time of the collapseImage: Amy Beth Bennett/Sun Sentinel/TNS/ABACA/picture alliance

Officials in Florida have stressed that it is unclear how many of the building's occupants were inside at the time of the collapse.

The cause of the collapse was also not immediately clear.

Video of the incident appears to show that the center of the building collapsed first, followed by a portion closest to the Atlantic Ocean.

What has the reaction been?

US President Joe Biden approved an emergency declaration on Friday, ordering federal help to supplement state and local response efforts.

"The President's action authorizes the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to coordinate all disaster relief efforts," the White House said in a statement released on Friday.

According to the White House statement, FEMA is authorized to identify, mobilize, and provide at its discretion the equipment and resources necessary to lessen impacts of the collapse. 

Workers ride in a lift as smoke rises off the rubble where a wing of a 12-storey beachfront condo building collapsed
Workers ride in a lift as smoke rises off the rubble where a wing of a 12-storey beachfront condo building collapsedImage: Gerald Herbert/AP Photo/picture alliance

Miami-Dade Mayor Levine Cava told reporters on Friday that despite the dangerous work and threat of rain, rescue teams will stay on site.

"We will continue search and rescue because we still have hope that we will find people alive," said Levine Cava, who described the dedication of the dozens of rescuers on site as "incredibly moving."

"They are totally, totally motivated to find people. They have to be pulled off the shift. That is how motivated they are to continue their efforts," she said.

"The building is literally pancaked,'' Surfside Mayor Charles 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.''

rs, dvv/msh (AP, Reuters, AFP)