The mayor of Surfside, Florida, raised questions about how a 12-story condo building partially collapsed in the middle of the night. The collapse, which he called an “unmitigated catastrophe,” left nearly 100 people unaccounted for.
“Buildings like this don’t fall down in America,” Mayor Charles Burkett told “CBS Evening News” anchor Norah O’Donnell on Thursday.
“This is this is not an old building. This is a new building. I know old buildings because that was my business,” he said. “This building is 1980s. So it’s like, relatively speaking, brand new. And the extent of the collapse is really mind-boggling.”
Burkett said he was alerted to the collapse at 2 a.m. and did not initially recognize the severity of the situation.
“I thought a balcony had come down, to tell you the truth,” he said. “And I almost didn’t come out, but I said, ‘You know, it’s my job to come out for a balcony.’ And I came out and when I saw what I saw, it was just heartbreaking.”
“It’s like a bomb went off,” he added. “It’s like an earthquake.”
Burkett called the collapse “an unmitigated catastrophe.”
When asked if there was any indication of foul play, Burkett said, “I don’t think they’ve ruled anything out, but it’s hard to imagine that.”
The building was in the process of undergoing inspections, which the city requires every 40 years, but they had yet to be completed when it collapsed. At least 99 people are unaccounted for, officials said Thursday afternoon.
“Our number one goal right now is to bring people out alive, if we can,” Burkett said. “There’ll be time to do the rest and to figure out what happened. But right now, it’s all hands on deck to do that.”