Four people were confirmed dead and 159 were still missing Friday after the collapse of a oceanfront building near Miami, as rescue teams scoured a mountain of rubble desperately for survivors.
One of the deceased in collapse partial of the property of 12 floors, occurred without cause determined in the early Thursday morning at Surfside, north of Miami Beach, has been identified, local media reported.
It is the mother of a 15-year-old boy rescued Thursday, who was taken to the hospital and did not survive, according to the Miami Herald.
Other bodies were being transported in yellow bags and evacuated so that the police could confirm their identities and inform the bereaved.
It’s a very, very hard time. There are so many people waiting, are they alive, what will happen? “Said US President Joe Biden during an event at the White House.
So we are wholeheartedly with them, “said the president, who earlier declared a state of emergency to provide federal assistance for emergency relief operations and relocation of survivors.
At least 18 Latin American citizens were among the disappeared: nine from Argentina, three from Uruguay, and six from Paraguay, including the sister of that country’s first lady, according to the consulates.
120 people located
Firefighters, dogs crawlers and cranes kept working among the ruins of the building located inside from Champlain Towers South complex, about 20 km from downtown Miami.
So far, “120 people have been located … but the number of people we have no news of has risen to 159,” Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine-Cava said at a news conference.
The authorities “still hope to find people alive.” The first responders “are highly motivated by the prospect of finding people. We have to force them to do their rotations,” he said.
A storm Thursday night brought heavy rain without interrupting the search. A fire also had to be controlled on the north side of the building. Heavy rainfall continued to fall in the area on Friday, amid the smell of burning rubber and plastic.
But in the face of the slow search operation, some began to express their frustration.
Not enough is being done, “Mike Salberg, who traveled from New York after the accident, told .. Five of his relatives, including his parents, are missing.
I want answers, “he said.” Families are marginalized. They tell us they have the best teams but they don’t have the ability and the capacity (…) 40 hours later, four dead. “
Surfside is home to a large Jewish community and rabbis mobilized to support evacuated residents and their families.
They hit us hard, but there is still hope, “Zalmi Duchman, 41, told ..” We Jews firmly believe in miracles and never give up, we are resilient and try to stay positive in difficult times. “
Explanations without delay
The Governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, asked for clarification “without delay” the causes of the collapse that affected some 55 apartments.
We need a definitive explanation of how this could have happened, “he said at a press conference.” I think it is important that it be without delay, “he added,” to have answers for the families and for the people of Florida. “
Full-time residents lived in the building as well as people who spent only seasons, so it’s hard to tell how many were there when it collapsed. Some were able to escape by descending the stairs, while others were rescued from the balconies.
Although the reasons for the collapse were unclear, the infrastructure of the building, built in 1981 and with 130 homes, will be closely evaluated.
Champlain Towers had to be recertified this year in accordance with Miami-Dade County safety regulations, and repair work was underway on its roof as part of that process.
But the authorities have stressed that it is unlikely that such works caused the collapse.
According to a study led by Florida International University (FIU) professor Shimon Wdowinski, the site showed signs of sinking about 25 years ago.
I don’t know if the collapse was predictable. But we detected that the building was moved in the 1990s, “Wdowinski told CNN on Friday.
The FIU warned that a “land subsidence by itself would probably not cause a building to collapse.”
Research to determine what happened will mean picking up a lot of data, taking samples of steel and concrete, looking for signs of corrosion or some unusual event prior to the collapse, said another FIU expert, Atorod Azizinamini, head of the department of civil and environmental engineering.
Unfortunately, this will not happen in a few days or weeks, “he said.” It will take some time. “