At least 159 missing after partial building collapse near Miami

By Aditi Sangal, Meg Wagner and Melissa Macaya, CNN

Updated 6:57 a.m. ET, June 26, 2021
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8:16 a.m. ET, June 25, 2021

At least 4 dead after Surfside building collapse, county mayor says 

From CNN’s Rosa Flores, Gregory Lemos and Tina Burnside

Four people have died from the Surfside building collapse according to Rachel Johnson, spokesperson for Miami-Dade Mayor’s office.

The mayor of Miami-Dade told ABC that three bodies were pulled from the Champlain Towers South wreckage overnight, though none of them have been identified.  

“Tragically, I woke up to learn that three bodies had been pulled from the wreckage overnight,” Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said Friday on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” 

Levine Cava said the development is “devastating news for families waiting for any hope for survival.”

She confirmed there are now four total dead, but said she is “very hopeful” there are people who can still be rescued. 

The mayor said 102 people have been accounted for, “and that number is way up from the original count so we are very, very grateful.”

7:56 a.m. ET, June 25, 2021

Biden is expected to speak about the building collapse today

From CNN's Jeff Zeleny

President Biden is receiving updates on the building collapse in Surfside, Florida, an administration official says, and is expected to address the tragedy again later today at the White House. 

Overnight, the President’s decision to declare a state of emergency in Florida — which immediately authorizes federal assistance for the Surfside building collapse — came after a day of discussions between the White House and the office of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.

More on this: An official request for assistance must come from the governor’s office. Throughout the day on Thursday, that did not occur, which struck officials in the White House as unusual. When CNN asked Biden around 5 p.m. on Thursday whether he had spoken to DeSantis, he said: “No, I haven’t yet. I’m waiting on a call from him if he needs the help. We told him it’s available. My team has gotten in touch. I have not yet personally spoken to him. 

That changed late Thursday evening when the governor’s office made the official request, a senior administration official said, and the declaration was announced by the White House at 12:43 am on Friday. 

As of this morning, the President and the governor have still not spoken, an official says, but he has been in contact with top White House officials, including chief of staff Ron Klain.

DeSantis, a Republican, has been one of Biden’s biggest critics – and he is widely seen inside the GOP as a top contender for the 2024 presidential race. 

A Florida official familiar with the matter tells CNN that DeSantis finally agreed to ask the White House for assistance at the urging of local officials in Miami-Dade County. 

The emergency declaration opens the door for federal assistance from FEMA and other agencies.

7:40 a.m. ET, June 25, 2021

Here is what we know so far about the building that collapsed

Debris dangles from Champlain Towers South Condo after the multistory building partially collapsed on Thursday, June 24, in Surfside, Florida.
Debris dangles from Champlain Towers South Condo after the multistory building partially collapsed on Thursday, June 24, in Surfside, Florida. David Santiago /Miami Herald/AP

A residential building in Surfside, Florida, partially collapsed early Thursday.

Here is what we know about the building so far:

  • The building is located at 8777 Collins Avenue, a few miles north of Miami Beach.
  • It was built in the 1980s, according to the Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett, and was "not lowly occupied."
  • The building has 12 stories and had 136 units. About 55 apartment units collapsed, according to Ray Jadallah of the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue.
  • An attorney for the building's residents association, Kenneth Direktor, told CNN the building had “thorough engineering inspections over the last several months” in preparation for compliance with a 40-year certification.
7:38 a.m. ET, June 25, 2021

"Everybody was screaming and panicking" as they tried to evacuate, witnesses say

From CNN’s Amanda Watts

Witnesses of the Champlain Towers South in Surfside, Florida, which partially collapsed Thursday, said as they were trying to evacuate the adjacent building, “everybody was screaming and panicking.“ 

Aaron Miles, his girlfriend, and members of their family were staying next door at the Bluegreen resort which has been evacuated. He said, “once you got down to the lobby… it was filled with nothing but dust and debris." 

Abigail Crosby said they quickly grabbed the five children who were staying with them and evacuated, “whatever I had, I took.” 

We “got out as fast as we could,” Miles said. The group went downstairs to the parking garage basement where a valet let them out. 

Miles said that immediately following the collapse, people were running around screaming.

“It was awful. Kids, grownups screaming. Women and children crying. It was probably one of the worst experiences I’ve ever witnessed in my life," Miles said.

The family, who is on vacation from Virginia, said everything seemed normal yesterday. 

Miles said, “yesterday, the building seemed normal and nothing seemed off, and then like I said we woke up and the building was just gone."

7:34 a.m. ET, June 25, 2021

Surveillance video from inside the building shows the moment of partial collapse 

From CNN’s Francesca Giuliani-Hoffman

A 13-second video from Rosie Santana shows a motion-sensor camera set up inside her family’s two-bedroom condo on the 7th floor of the building, Unit 711.

Santana told CNN, “That's our apartment, my family apartment. I actually left for the weekend yesterday and I always set up a camera when I leave, so that was the footage I got. It only records when it detects movement so... it detected movement, it recorded that piece, and then it lost connection.” 

Santana said that their apartment “was one of the ones that collapsed, like... it's just dust, there's no hope for it basically.” 

Santana added that “It's basically a vacation home that we use, but I've been there for the past 3 weeks and I just happened to leave yesterday.”

Watch the footage:

7:30 a.m. ET, June 25, 2021

The team racing to find missing people has responded to disasters in Haiti and Mexico, CNN reporter says

From CNN's Aditi Sangal

Fire rescue personnel conduct a search and rescue with dogs through the rubble of the Champlain Towers South Condo after the multistory building partially collapsed in Surfside on Thursday.
Fire rescue personnel conduct a search and rescue with dogs through the rubble of the Champlain Towers South Condo after the multistory building partially collapsed in Surfside on Thursday. David Santiago/Miami Herald/AP

The Miami-Dade Fire Rescue crew is racing to find the 99 people still accounted for after a residential building in Surfside, Florida, partially collapsed. These members are well-trained individuals who have previously responded to disasters in countries such as Haiti and Mexico, CNN's Rosa Flores reports.

An official explained the work these workers are undertaking to CNN.

"This type of work is so dangerous and so painstaking, they literally move inch by inch. They move a piece of rubble. They're working with structural engineers to shore up the building, to build tunnels to go into the building, to listen for signs of life," Flores added.

At different points of their search and rescue operation, crews do an "all stop" to listen for signs of life.

"But there are a lot of challenges, though. This is a residential building. So, as you might imagine, the pipes have burst. There are fumes. There's gas. There's, also, vehicles. So, there is a lot that they are dealing with as they are trying to find signs of life," she said.

7:19 a.m. ET, June 25, 2021

What we know about those missing in the building collapse

From CNN's Theresa Waldrop

At least 99 people were unaccounted for after part of a 12-story residential building in Surfside, Florida, collapsed early Thursday, authorities said.

Search and rescue teams have been feverishly scouring the site near Miami since shortly after 55 of the building's 136 units fell at about 1:30 a.m. ET Thursday.

Here's what we know about the missing:

  • Family of Paraguay's first lady: The sister and brother-in-law of Paraguay's first lady, Silvana López Moreira, live with their three children on the 10th floor of the partially collapsed building, and Paraguay's ministry of external relations has not been able to locate the family, the ministry told CNN en Español. A total of six Paraguayans are unaccounted for, the ministry tweeted.
  • Venezuelans missing: Brian Fincheltub, Venezuela's consular affairs director, tweeted the consulate has identified four of its citizens who are not accounted for and who were believed to be in the building.
  • Jewish community members missing, rabbi says: Some members from the The Shul of Bal Harbour synagogue are among the 99 people unaccounted for, Rabbi Sholom Lipskar told CNN's Wolf Blitzer. "This is something that transcends our capacity for understanding," Lipskar said about the collapse. "It's a reality, we accept it and we have to learn as we do in our culture of resilience to move forward."
  • Uruguayan citizens missing: Three Uruguayan citizens are among the missing, according to the consulate in Miami. The consulate is in contact with local authorities and with the families of the people missing, said Consul General Eduardo Bouzout.
  • Nine Argentines, including a couple and their daughter: Argentines Andrés Galfrascoli, 45, his partner Fabián Nuñez, 55, and their daughter, Sofía Galfrascoli Núñez, 6, are among the missing, according to a friend. The three were on vacation in Florida, staying at the condo of a friend, Nicolás Fernández. Nine Argentines were missing as of Thursday afternoon, the country's consulate in Miami said on Twitter.

Read more here.

7:15 a.m. ET, June 25, 2021

Surfside will again see thunderstorms like the one that that paused rescue work yesterday

From CNN's Haley Brink

After a residential building partially collapsed in Surfside, Florida, authorities had to pause their search and rescue efforts on Thursday morning due to a thunderstorm in the area.

Here's Friday's weather forecast for Surfside:

Scattered showers and thunderstorms due to onshore flow, warm lows around 80 and highs around 85. Not much overnight cool relief and it's humid so it'll feel more like the upper 80s overnight and low 90s during the day. It is quite breezy too, with sustained winds of 10-15 mph, and gusts up to 25 mph through the weekend.
7:09 a.m. ET, June 25, 2021

Florida remains under a state of emergency to address building collapse

People wait for information after a partial building collapse on Thursday, June 24, in Surfside, Florida.
People wait for information after a partial building collapse on Thursday, June 24, in Surfside, Florida. Wilfredo Lee/AP

Florida remains under a state of emergency after Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order Thursday night to provide assistance for the families impacted by the collapse of Champlain Towers in Surfside.

The declaration allows all necessary resources to be diverted to the area including law enforcement and other emergency personnel, the order said.

President Biden approved the declaration, which gave FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security the power “to coordinate all disaster relief efforts," according to a White House press release.

At least one person died in the collapse, 37 people were pulled from the rubble and at least 99 people still remain unaccounted for.