An intense search and rescue effort will continue through the night after part of a 12-story residential building collapsed early Thursday in the South Florida town of Surfside, killing at least one and leaving almost 100 people unaccounted for.
About 55 of the 136 units at Champlain Towers South collapsed around 1:30 a.m., officials said, leaving huge piles of rubble on the ground and materials dangling from what remained of the structure in the beachfront community a few miles north of Miami Beach.
At least 99 people were unaccounted for as of Thursday afternoon, according to Miami-Dade Police spokesperson Alvaro Zabaleta.
At least one person died because of the collapse, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said. A total of 102 people have been accounted for, she said.
Two people have been pulled from the rubble, Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Assistant Chief Ray Jadallah said, without addressing their medical conditions.
Rescuers helped pull a boy from the debris alive, a witness said, and video showed responders helping others leave the standing portions of the building, sometimes using a bucket atop a fire truck’s ladder.
State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis said Thursday afternoon that emergency workers heard sounds from the rubble earlier. One of the sounds is from an individual in the parking garage area that they are having difficulty getting to, he said.
“It’s kind of hit or miss,” he said. “You get into the zone where you are so passionate and so focused and so determined to make sure you are doing everything possible to save a life in an event like this.”
Besides the two pulled from rubble, 35 others had been helped from standing parts of the building, Jadallah said.
Jadallah told reporters at an afternoon news conference that search and rescue crews were working in a parking garage area underneath the rubble.