Partial building collapse near Miami

By Aditi Sangal, Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya, Veronica Rocha, Fernando Alfonso III and Joshua Berlinger, CNN

Updated 1109 GMT (1909 HKT) June 25, 2021
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8:17 a.m. ET, June 24, 2021

Eyewitness describes the moment he found a boy alive in the rubble

From CNN's Aditi Sangal

Nicholas Balboa was walking his dog near his home in Surfside, Florida, when he “felt the ground shake, felt like an earthquake.” When he got to the site, he found a building partially collapsed.

Just when he thought it was hard for anyone to survive the chaotic scene, he heard a cry for help.

“I was thinking to myself, 'how could anybody survive this?' As I was thinking that, I heard a voice yelling,” Balboa said, adding that as he got closer, he saw the boy “sticking his hand up through the debris."

"And I could see his hand and fingers wiggling," he said.

Balboa said he and another person climbed up the rubble to help, and then found police and firefighters to help.

“So then they began their efforts to get him out. It was him and his mother. We could hear him. We could see him clearly. His mom, we weren't able to see, we weren't able to hear her, so I don't know what her status is, but god willing, she's OK.”

The boy was under his bed frame and mattress, Balboa said. 

“He was obviously sleeping,” he said. “I can only imagine how many people were in their apartments either sleeping or watching TV or just whatever, just living their lives, unbeknownst to them the building was about to break away," he said.

Describing the scene of the collapse, Balboa said, “it was almost out of a horror movie. I have no idea if it wasn't for us — myself and the other gentleman — being on the back side of the building and as quiet as it was, I have no idea how long it would have been until they found him.”

Watch the interview:

7:57 a.m. ET, June 24, 2021

Surfside mayor: "This is a catastrophic failure of that building"

From CNN’s Gregory Lemos 

The mayor of Surfside, Florida, said the building that partially collapsed overnight “pancaked” as it fell.

“Apparently when the building came down it pancaked, so there’s just not a lot of voids that they are finding or seeing from the outside,” Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said on NBC’s “Today Show.”  

Burkett said two people were transported to hospital, one of whom was later declared dead. He added that 15 family units are currently at a community will be relocated to hotels shortly. 

The mayor said the search-and-rescue effort began shortly after 2:00 a.m. ET and continues through the morning with dogs. 

“The dogs have been going over the debris and just tragically there haven’t been any hits for the dogs and that’s a great disappointment,” Burkett said. 

When asked if all units in the building were occupied, the mayor confirmed the building “was not lowly occupied.”

“I think there were quite a few people in there,” he said. 

As to the cause of the collapse, the mayor noted there was roof work going on but did not think that was related to the collapse. 

“This is a catastrophic failure of that building,” Burkett said. “It looks like a bomb went off but we are pretty sure a bomb didn’t go off.” 


7:24 a.m. ET, June 24, 2021

Here's an aerial look at the collapse site

Here is an aerial look at the area after a residential building partly collapsed early Thursday in Surfside, Florida.

The footage shows files of debris and rubble:

7:21 a.m. ET, June 24, 2021

"My prayers are with those impacted," Miami-Dade County mayor tweeted

Daniella Levine Cava, the mayor of Miami-Dade County, tweeted about the partially collapsed building, saying she is praying for those impacted and for the first responders who are "working to save lives."

Here's her full tweet:

7:26 a.m. ET, June 24, 2021

Strong storms moving toward collapse site could impact search-and-rescue efforts

From CNN's Judson Jones

A line of showers and storms is heading westward toward the coastal Miami Metro area, which could impact search-and-rescue activity around the building collapse in Surfside, Florida. 

This activity should move over coastal areas in the next 30 minutes or so when localized flooding and brief gusty winds could occur.

Continued showers are possible through the morning hours, and once the sea breeze kicks in, the rain should move further inland today.

7:40 a.m. ET, June 24, 2021

At least one dead after the partial building collapse

From CNN’s Leyla Santiago

A portion of the 12-story condo tower crumbled to the ground during a partial collapse of the building on June 24, in Surfside, Florida. 
A portion of the 12-story condo tower crumbled to the ground during a partial collapse of the building on June 24, in Surfside, Florida.  Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Surfside Mayor Charles W. Burkett confirms that there is at least one fatality from Thursday’s early morning building collapse. 

According to Burkett, the person was transported to the hospital where they were pronounced deceased.

“This is a horrific catastrophe. In the United States, buildings just don’t fall down," Burkett told CNN’s Leyla Santiago. 

The mayor told reporters that at least 10 people were treated on scene and that the building has been cleared. 

The mayor went on to say that the building was undergoing roof work, but he couldn’t say whether that was a contributing factor to the collapse.

6:34 a.m. ET, June 24, 2021

A neighbor describes what it was like to evacuate after the collapse

From CNN's Paul P. Murphy

Kimberly Morales lives in the building across the street from the one that partially collapsed in Surfside, Florida, and was awoken by building alarms going off.

"I woke everyone up in the room because when I looked out the window, I saw everyone outside," she told CNN. "I told everyone to hurry up and leave the building."

She says she didn't hear the building collapse, but when they got outside, they saw a significant portion of the building was missing. 

She's now in a community center with other evacuees.

Morales took this video of the scene:

6:24 a.m. ET, June 24, 2021

"It's completely gone in the back," says a neighbor, describing the scene of the collapse

A Surfside, Florida, resident Michael Ruiz described the scene. He lives near the partially collapsed building.

"Before just 2:00 in the morning — I live off of Collins Avenue — and I'm hearing, I would say, about 50 ambulances and fire trucks and fire rescues just driving by," Ruiz told CNN affiliate WPLG on Thursday morning.

Ruiz says he got a message from another neighbor mentioning the collapse.

"I came by, and I have never seen so many ambulances and police in my life all at once. It looked like something from, like, 9/11 literally," he added.

Ruiz said he was able to go to the back of the partially collapsed building. He says he took videos and photos, and that the entire building collapsed from the 14th floor.

"So there's a third of the entire building that you cannot see from the street, but it's completely gone in the back, towards the beach side." 

7:42 a.m. ET, June 24, 2021

Here's what the building looked like before it collapsed

Authorities are on the scene of a "partial building collapse" in Surfside, Florida this morning.

Video from the scene shows huge piles of rubble near the damaged building as well as a large amount of first responders.

Here's what the building looked like before the overnight collapse: