Crews Comb Rubble Of Collapsed Florida Condo, 99 Unaccounted For
Surfside, United States, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 25th Jun, 2021 ) :Rescue teams combed through the rubble of an oceanfront apartment block near Miami Beach that partially collapsed Thursday, killing at least one person and leaving another 99 unaccounted for amid fears of a much higher death toll.
An unknown number of residents are feared to have been asleep in the 12-story building, in the town of Surfside, when the collapse in the wee hours of Thursday morning reduced a large portion of it to a pile of debris, exposing the interiors of gutted apartments.
"One side of the building just fell completely. It doesn't exist anymore," said Nicolas Fernandez, 29, an Argentinian resident of Miami who had yet to hear from friends who were staying overnight in his family's unit in the building.
"I don't know about them. I don't know if they are alive," he told AFP.
So far 102 others have been accounted for, Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said.
Search and rescue teams with sniffer dogs will work through the night, Levine Cava said.
"As the day comes to an end, their day does not," she said at an evening news conference, the last until Friday morning.
At a Surfside community center, relatives of the missing cried as they waited for news. Tenants of the ruined building who were lucky enough to have been away when disaster struck pondered sudden homelessness.
Erick de Moura, 40, happened to spend Wednesday night at his girlfriend's house.
"I just came back and the scene is shocking," he said. "There is a lot of pain. I'm blessed that I am alive." Around 55 apartments were affected by the collapse, according to Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Assistant Chief Ray Jadallah who told a news conference that emergency services arrived at the scene at around 1:30 am, evacuating 35 people from the building.
The building was occupied by a mix of full-time and seasonal residents and renters, and officials have stressed it is unclear how many people were actually inside at the time.
"It's hard to get a count on it," Miami-Dade County Commissioner Sally Heyman told CNN. "You don't know between vacations or anything else," she said. "The hope is still there, but it's waning."