- A 12-storey building by the sea “crêped” during its collapse
- Urgent search for survivors continues on Friday
- The building was undergoing an inspection but the cause remains unknown
SURFSIDE, Fla .– Nearly 160 people went missing on Friday morning, a day after a 12-story oceanfront condominium collapsed just north of Miami, killing at least four people.
Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava confirmed the increase in the number of missing and dead at a press conference on Friday and said first responders were still looking for signs of life.
“We will continue the search and rescue because we still have the hope of locating people alive,” said Levine Cava.
As of Friday, 159 people were still missing, but 120 people had been identified, she added.
A wing of the residential building in Surfside, Florida, collapsed with a roar around 1:30 a.m. Thursday. In video footage captured nearby, the center of the building appeared to fall first, with a section closest to the ocean wobbling and sinking seconds later as a huge cloud of dust engulfed the neighborhood.
Firefighters and others worked through the night Thursday in hopes of locating survivors. Raide Jadallah, deputy chief of fire operations at Miami-Dade Fire Rescue, said on Friday that rescue teams encountered the three additional fatalities while working nights.
Levine Cava said rescue teams were working “at extreme risk” for themselves. Jadallah said crews heard noises in the rubble, although their nature is unclear. Rescuers were also using light machinery to dig a tunnel below, he said.
Early Friday, President Joe Biden declared a state of emergency authorizing funding and other disaster relief in Surfside, a small, close-knit community of about 6,000 residents. The Federal Emergency Management Agency was sending support, said Levine Cava.
Latest:$ 5 million lawsuit claims victims of condo collapse deserve compensation
Building: See what the Champlain South Towers looked like before, after the collapse
Here is what we currently know:
Could royal tides, rising sea levels contribute to the collapse?
Salt water and brine-soaked air seep into the pores of coastal construction, forming a rusty crust around the steel skeletons that strengthen seaside structures. It weakens the bonds between metal and concrete. , creating cracks and crumbling in vulnerable areas, such as balconies.
But some building experts have questioned whether environmental aggression supercharged by climate change could have played a role in the catastrophic collapse of Champlain Towers South Condo.
“Rising sea level causes potential corrosion and if it does occur, it may not be able to support the weight of the building,” said Zhong-Ren Peng, director of the International Planning and Development Center. University of Florida adaptation design. “I think this could be a red flag for coastal developments.”
Albert Slap, president of Boca Raton-based RiskFootprint, said it can be unseen machinations – the push and pull of tides on limestone bedrock – combined with rising seas that can weaken integrity of a building.
“Even though when the building was constructed in 1981, the foundations were dry most of the time, with rising sea levels pushing groundwater to the surface, the foundations could be wet enough to soften the concrete,” Slap said.
– Kimberly Miller
Families “still have hope” Friday morning
Some family members awaiting news of their missing loved one spent the night at the family reunification center. Others had just arrived Friday morning from out of state.
Ashley Dean rushed to South Florida from New Orleans after receiving a frantic call from her sister’s husband on Thursday as news of the South Champlain Towers collapsed.
Dean’s sister, Cassandra Stratton, a yoga teacher, is among the 99 missing. Dean said Stratton lived on the fourth floor of a 40-year-old building. Stratton’s husband Michael Stratton has arrived from Washington, DC
“We’re just keeping our hopes up,” Dean said.
– Adam Regan
USA TODAY Inquiry:Collapsed Miami condo was sinking into Earth as early as 1990s, researchers say
Hot and muggy morning for first responders
Rescuers will contend with typical South Florida summer weather throughout the weekend, including patchy morning showers.
The National Weather Service said temperatures would peak at 86 degrees in Miami on Friday. Chances of rain are between 50% and 70% throughout the weekend, but the amounts accumulated each day in the Miami area are expected to be half an inch or less.
Winds were also blowing at 15 mph, gusting up to 21 mph.
In the area around the building, the air was thick with debris and dust. The surrounding streets were mostly empty, except for rescue workers, the media and a few loitering local residents. The assembly center for people seeking to reunite with their families was still in turmoil.
– Kimberly Miller and Wendy Rhodes
Family members swabbed for DNA at reunification center
After hours of no news on Thursday afternoon, police arrived at the collection center.
Officers told the families they would go inside one at a time and, according to what they were told, they would be taken for DNA from the police clinic van parked next to the community center building.
Some burst into tears as they left the room. A young woman in a long white blouse and jeans passed out before heading to the van.
– Romina Ruiz-Goiriena
Read in Spanish:Una mirada al Champlain Towers South, el edificio de apartamentos en Florida that colapsó parcialmente
Investigators are trying to determine the cause of the collapse
Authorities have yet to say what may have caused the collapse near 88th Street and Collins Avenue. Police blocked nearby roads and dozens of fire and rescue vehicles, ambulances and police cars converged on the area.
A researcher from Florida International University said the building was built on reclaimed wetlands and was determined to be unstable a year ago. Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said roofing work was underway on the building.
According to the Miami-Dade County Police Department, authorities will investigate the incident after search and rescue operations are completed, CNN reported.
The apartment building was undergoing an inspection
Built in 1981, the building was only 40 years old. Florida requires all buildings and properties to be inspected every 40 years to be recertified, and Miami-Dade County officials were inspecting the building before it collapsed, city officials said Thursday.
The process involves electrical and structural inspections for a report to be filed with the city.
Engineers were coming to inspect the building, said Oren Cytrynbaum, a lawyer who owns two units in the building with his family and who was not there when it collapsed. According to Cytrynbaum, some repairs were made to the roof before the fall, but he was not aware of anything else.
“At the end of the day, it’s not an old building, and 40-year-old inspection or not, that sort of thing shouldn’t happen,” said Mayor Charles Burkett.
First responders ‘don’t give up’ in search of survivors
Crews wearing hard hats and accompanied by search and rescue dogs search the piles of concrete and cables for any signs of life. Thunderstorms, heavy damage and changing conditions hampered efforts to locate the victims, but first responders “did not give up” the search, Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett told CNN.
They searched for gaps in the wreckage and used a garage under the building as a tunnel system to maneuver throughout the building. Ray Jadallah, deputy fire chief of Miami-Dade Fire & Rescue, said earlier Thursday that crews were using sonar equipment to detect movement in debris and keep crews safe.
The equipment detected that what Jadallah said sounded like a “snap”.
“We received sounds, not necessarily from people talking, but sounds,” he said, describing it as possible to bang under layers of debris.
“The building is literally a pancake”:Heartbreaking footage captures Surfside building collapse and rescue efforts
Who is missing in the frenzied race of the survivors
Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett has confirmed that at least one person has died. Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said officials were able to count 102 people so far, but 99 were still missing.
Relatives of Paraguay’s first lady were among the 99 people missing, Leticia Robertti, spokesperson for the Paraguayan consul general in Miami, told USA TODAY.
They included the first lady’s sister, Sofia Lopez Moreira Bó, the sister’s husband, Luis Pettengill, their three children and their nanny, Lady Luna Villalba. Other Paraguayans were also among those missing.
About 20 Jews were also among the missing, some of them of Israeli citizenship, Maor Elbaz-Starinsky, Israel’s consul general in Miami, told USA TODAY.
Some residents had been torn from the building by firefighters using ladders. Other researchers were trying to reach a trapped child whose parents were believed to have died. In one case, rescuers saved a mother and her child, but the woman’s leg had to be amputated to get it out of the rubble.
“I have no hope”:Relatives await news, survivors flee after partial collapse of condominium near Miami
Contributors: John Bacon, Romina Ruiz-Goiriena and Christal Hayes, USA TODAY; The Associated Press.