SURFSIDE, Fla. (AP) — A wing of a 12-story beachfront condo building collapsed with a roar in a town outside Miami last Thursday, killing at least one person and trapping residents in rubble and twisted metal. Rescuers pulled out dozens of survivors and continue to look for more.
At the moment at least 10 people have died and more than 151 are still unaccounted for following Thursday’s partial collapse of a residential building in a South Florida community, Miami-Dade County, Florida, Mayor Daniella Levine Cava confirmed on Sunday.
Six to eight search and rescue squads are on the pile actively searching at any given time.
According to the AP, a 2018 engineering report discovered the ground-floor pool deck of the oceanfront condominium building was resting on a concrete slab that had “major structural damage” and needed to be extensively repaired
The report also uncovered “abundant cracking and spalling” of concrete columns, beams and walls in the parking garage
It is unclear if any of the damage observed was responsible for the collapse, the AP reports – Residents in the collapsed tower’s sister building, constructed around the same time by the same contractor, have been given the option to relocate if they wish, but no mandatory evacuations were issued.
“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.”
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.
Teams of 10 to 12 rescuers were entering the rubble at a time with dogs and other equipment, working until they tire from the heavy lifting, then making way for a new team, said Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, the state’s fire marshal.
“They’re not going to stop just because of nightfall,” Patronis told Miami television station WPLG. “They just may have a different path they pursue.”
Patronis said he was deeply moved by the image of a bunk bed near the now-exposed top of the building.
“Somebody was probably sleeping in it,” he said. “There’s all those what-ifs.”
Authorities did not say what may have caused the collapse. On video footage captured from nearby, the center of the building appeared to fall first, with a section nearest the ocean teetering and coming down seconds later as a huge dust cloud swallowed the neighborhood.
Work was being done on the building’s roof, but Burkett said he did not see how that could have been the cause.
Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said she got a call from Joe Biden, who offered federal aid. Hotels opened to some of the displaced residents, she said, and deliveries of food, medicine and more were being hastily arranged. Rescue officials tried to determine how many people might be missing and asked residents to check in with them.
About half of the building’s roughly 130 units were affected, the mayor told a news conference. Rescuers pulled at least 35 people from the wreckage by mid-morning, and heavy equipment was being brought in to help stabilize the structure to give them more access, Raide Jadallah of Miami-Dade Fire and Rescue said.
Report updated June 28 11:23 a.m. CST.