A 12-story oceanfront building partially collapsed in Florida on Thursday (24), killing at least one. A major rescue operation is carried out in search of survivors. According to the authorities, in addition to the ten injured, 51 people are missing.
Miami-Dade County Commissioner Sally Heyman said authorities were unable to contact dozens of people allegedly living in the building, a place that concentrates families and people traveling to Florida during the winter months in the United States in search of more pleasant temperatures.
“There are 51 people who were supposed to be there, but we don’t know if they’re on vacation or something, so we’re just waiting,” Heyman told CNN by phone. “Hope is still there, but it is fading.”
Video footage shows a significant portion of the building, in the town of Surfside, north of Miami Beach, reduced to rubble and with apartment interiors in plain view. “The police chief told me that at least two people were taken to hospital this morning, and one died. We saw ten people there,” Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said, on the American television station NBC.
It is still not known how many people were living in the building, or how many were there at the time of the incident. Some residents managed to exit the stairs on their own, while others had to be rescued from the porch. According to Burkett, sniffer dogs are participating in the search and, so far, no survivors have been found. He added that the cause of the collapse is not yet known.
Santo Mejil, a local resident, said his wife, a caregiver, was in the building when it collapsed. The Miami Herald reported that the woman heard a loud explosion. “It was like an earthquake,” he said sobbing, as she called to say she was evacuated.
Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava lamented the “terrible tragedy” and sent her condolences to those affected by the incident. “We are very grateful to the firefighters and all the first responders on the ground; that they stay safe as they work to save lives,” he said. According to local media, the building was constructed in 1981 and had 130 units, of which around 80 were occupied.