After Florida Building Collapses, 51 Residents Unaccounted For, Official Says

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The Epoch Times

SURFSIDE, Fla.—Hundreds of fire and rescue workers scoured through tons of rubble early Thursday after a 12-story oceanfront residential building partially collapsed in southern Florida, with at least one person dead and 51 still unaccounted for, officials said.

Miami-Dade Commissioner Sally Heyman told CNN that officials have yet to account for 51 people believed to be residents of the building, but cautioned that it was unclear whether any or all of them were inside at the time of its collapse.

A fire official said 35 people were rescued from the building in Surfside, Florida, just north of Miami Beach, including two who were pulled from the rubble as response teams used trained dogs in a search for survivors.

After speaking with local officials, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said it was possible that more victims could be found in the rubble. He said he planned to go the scene.

“We’ll hope for the best in terms of additional recoveries, but we are bracing for some bad news, just given the destruction that we’re seeing,” DeSantis said at an event at a community college near Tampa.

Built in 1981, the Champlain Towers South had more than 130 units, about 80 of which were occupied.

It was unclear how many people were inside at 2 a.m., when an entire side of the building pulled away and fell to the ground below.

“It’s hard to imagine how this could have happened,” Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett told reporters. “Buildings just don’t fall down.”

Construction work was being done on the roof, he said, but it was unclear whether the project involved any heavy gear.

Footage from WPLG Local 10, a Miami TV station, showed a rescue team pulling a boy from piles of debris and rebar, and firefighters using ladder trucks to rescue residents trapped on balconies.

Assistant Fire Chief of Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Raide Jadallah said that rescuers are moving in “heavy equipment” and working to support the remaining structure of the building.


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