Search-and-rescue personnel work after the partial collapse of the 12-story Champlain Towers South condo building in Surfside, Florida, on Thursday, June 24, 2021.
At least one person was confirmed dead and dozens remained unaccounted for. Rescuers pulled out some survivors and continued to look for more in the rubble.
“The building is literally pancaked,” Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said. “That is heartbreaking because it doesn’t mean, to me, that we are going to be as successful as we wanted to be in finding people alive.”
Pile of rubble
Rubble is piled high after the collapse of a large section of the 12-story Champlain Towers South condo building.
Teams of 10 to 12 rescuers were entering the area with dogs and other equipment, working until they tire from the heavy lifting, then making way for a new team, according to Florida’s chief financial officer and fire marshal Jimmy Patronis.
Debris hangs from upper floors
Mayor Burkett said two people were taken to a hospital and one of them died. Miami-Dade Assistant Fire Chief Ray Jadallah said 10 people were treated at the scene of the collapse.
Miami-Dade Fire Rescue said it had more than 80 units at the site along with units from municipal fire departments. Miami Beach Police tweeted that “multiple police and fire agencies from across Miami-Dade” were assisting.
One man told CBS Miami that he “was walking with my brothers, we were walking our dog in the neighborhood, and basically we heard a really big rumble and we thought it was a motorcycle, you know, and we turned around and saw a cloud of dust just coming our way.”
What caused the deadly collapse is still unclear.
Mich Balkany, a resident, called the partial collapse “absolutely insane.”
“I’ve been living in Surfside the past 10 years, and this is by far the most horrific thing that I’ve seen in my life,” he told ReliableNewsMedia.
Personal belongings lay bare
The collapse, which appeared to affect one leg of the L-shaped tower, tore away walls and left a number of homes in the still-standing part of the building exposed in what looked like a giant dollhouse.
Florida Power & Light says it cut electricity to about 400 customers in the area as a precaution.
“The building shook”
A man who lives in a building next door said he felt the collapse, CBS Miami reported.
“The building shook and then I looked out the window and you couldn’t see, I thought it was like a storm or something coming in. When the dust cleared, the back two-thirds of the building was gone, it was down to the ground,” he said.
Champlain Towers South
Unlike some residential buildings in South Florida primarily used as vacation homes, Mayor Burkett said the building was mostly occupied by full-time residents — mainly families.
Boy rescued from the rubble
This photo taken from video provided by ReliableNewsMedia shows firefighters rescue a child from the rubble of the Champlain Towers South Condo.
Search for survivors
Luz Marina holds a picture of her aunt, Marina Azen, who she said is missing.
A family reunification center was set up nearby for anyone looking for relatives.
On the edge
Bunkbeds remain standing at the exposed edge of a room inside the partially collapsed 12-story beachfront condo building in Surfside, Florida.
Family members wait at reunification center
Jennifer Carr, right, sits with her daughter as they wait for news at a family reunification center.
Cousins Andrea and Nellie Gonzalez wait for news at a family reunification center. They are vacationing from Wisconsin and had to be evacuated from a nearby building.
“The most insane thing I’ve ever seen in my life”
A man who was evacuated from a nearby hotel said: “The building — one of these huge buildings – gone! … The building — it’s gone. … The whole building’s gone. … Oh my gosh. This is the most insane thing I’ve ever seen in my life.”