DeSantis: Still hope for survivors after deadly condo collapse

Florida

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TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A massive search and rescue effort is underway Thursday after a Miami-area condo building collapsed, killing at least one person. Authorities said Thursday afternoon that 51 people living at the building were unaccounted for.

The oceanfront wing of the building on 88th Street and Collins Avenue in Surfside collapsed around 1 a.m., sending up clouds of debris that engulfed the block.

“I just can’t put into words, it looks like a bomb hit, it looks like something in one of these ‘Third World’ countries that just literally collapsed, like a pancake straight down, and there’s just an incredible pile of rubble,” one witness told NBC 6.

About 80 crews went to the scene to evacuate the building and search for survivors. Authorities said one person died in the collapse. Two others were rushed to an area hospital in critical condition. Ten people were treated at the scene.

Video shows moment condo collapsed in South Florida

Miami-Dade Commissioner Sally Heyman told CNN that 51 people were unaccounted for. Heyman said it was unclear if those people were in the building, on vacation or somewhere else, but they could not be reached.

Police said crews were able to rescue 35 people from the structure and two others were pulled from the rubble. Video showed a young boy being pulled from the debris and carried out on a stretcher. We still don’t know the extent of the child’s injuries.

“The building has literally pancaked, it has gone down, and I mean there’s just feet in between stories where there were 10 feet,” Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said. “That is heartbreaking because it doesn’t mean to me that we’re gonna be as successful as we would want to be to find people alive.”

Boy pulled from rubble after Florida condo collapse

At a press conference Thursday afternoon, DeSantis said crews were in “search and rescue mode.”

“They’re still hard at work. We still have hope to be able to identify additional survivors,” the governor said. “They are in search and rescue mode. They are out trying to identify survivors. I know they have made contact with some and they are doing everything they can to save lives, and that is ongoing and they’re not going to rest.”

Crews have spent hours moving the rubble and scoping out safe paths to tunnel into. Dogs were sent in to search for survivors. DeSantis said the state has sent emergency personnel to the site to assist with search and rescue efforts.

“I know there has been some documented loss of life but I think this is going to be a really difficult day as they go through and hopefully they’re able to save a lot more people cause they have done a heck of a job so far,” DeSantis said Thursday morning.

Officials launched two emergency hotlines for residents and those searching for loved ones. Families can call the Family Reunification Center at 305-614-1819. Residents can also call 305-993-1071.

Video shows aftermath of Florida condo collapse

According to the Associated Press, the condo development was built in 1981. It had a few two-bedroom units on the market, with asking prices ranging from $600,000 to $700,000.

The building’s roof was recently repaired, but it’s unclear if that had anything to do with the collapse, Mayor Burkett said.

“I know that they are going to have engineers looking at this to try to identify what happened, and what was the problematic occurrence,” DeSantis said. “You aren’t going to have those answers immediately, but I know that they are diligently going to be working to be able to do that.”

Residents who survived the collapse unharmed were moved to the town’s community center, according to police.

“We are happy to report that through the help of the Red Cross we have short-term hotels set up for these folks, and obviously we are going to work with the city and the county, state to make sure that there is any longer-term needs, that we can be helpful in any way that we can,” DeSantis said.

Video shows aftermath of partial condo collapse

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