Authorities have reported at least 100 people are still missing after a 12-story oceanfront building collapsed in Miami.
Although local officials said the 12-story tower was undergoing roof construction and other repairs, the cause for the collapse of the 40-year-old high-rise was not immediately known.
Search teams noticed sounds of hitting and other noises but no voices coming from the mounds of debris.
According to Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, 99 individuals were unaccounted for, for some 18 hours after the collapse, though some may not have been in the building at the time.
She added that another 102 people whose locations were earlier on unknown have since been found and “declared safe.”
A fire official confirmed earlier that 35 people were evacuated from the part of the high-rise left standing.
He added that response teams using trained dogs and drones in the search of survivors drew two individuals from the rubble, however, one of them was dead.
“Fire and rescue are in there with their search team, with their dogs. It’s a very dangerous site right now. Very unstable,” Miami-Dade Police Director Freddy Ramirez said earlier in the day. “They’re in search-and-rescue mode, and they will be in that mode for a while. They are not quitting. They’re going to work through the night. They are not stopping.”
According to Ramirez, the numbers of known casualties and people missing were likely to vary.
“I don’t want to set false expectations,” he said.
Footage from WPLG Local 10, a Miami TV station, showed a rescue team pulling a boy from piles of debris and rebar, and firefighters using ladder trucks to rescue residents trapped on balconies.
Footage captured by a security camera nearby displayed an entire side of the building collapsing in two sections at about 1:30 a.m. (0530 GMT).
At first, it sounded like a flash of lightning or thunder,” said Barry Cohen, a former Surfside vice mayor and building resident. “But then it just kept on – steadily for at least 15 to 30 seconds – it just kept on going and going and going.”
Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden authorized an emergency statement in the state of Florida and ordered federal assistance to supplement state and local response efforts following the collapse.
“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 today.
By Everlyne Bosibori