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Crews working 'around the clock' searching rubble from Miami-area condo building collapse

99 remain unaccounted for, 37 freed from structure
APTOPIX Building Collapse Miami
Miami Building Collapse
Posted at 5:55 AM, Jun 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-24 22:22:04-04

SURFSIDE, Fla. — Rescue crews will be working "around the clock" officials said searching the rubble from a large condominium building that partially collapsed Thursday morning in Surfside, Florida, near Miami.

One person has died from the collapse; 99 people remain unaccounted for Thursday night and another 102 people from the building have been accounted for.

About half of the condos were damaged or destroyed with the building tower collapsed in the early morning hours.

Search crews are using sonar and cameras to look for signs of life in the rubble. They are also utilizing a parking garage under the building as tunnels to get access to different areas of the rubble.

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue tweeted a video showing crews in an underground area. The short video shows a team standing in a foot or so of water and looking into a tunnel further along.

Fire Rescue Assistant Chief Ray Jadallah said they have heard noises coming from the rubble.

"We did receive sounds. Not necessarily people talking, but sounds. What sounds like people banging, not people but sounds of a possibility of a banging. We haven't heard any voices coming from the pile," Jadallah said during a Thursday afternoon press conference.

So far, 37 individuals have been pulled from the structure. At least 11 were treated for injuries and a few of them needed to be transported to the hospital. One person has died at this time.

Officials have not speculated or commented on a possible cause of the collapse. They said they are focused on the rescue efforts right now and have engineers on the scene to help evaluate the structure.

President Joe Biden said Thursday that his administration was ready to deploy federal resources to assist, as soon as Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency. Thursday evening that announcement came from the governor's office.

"Whatever help you want, just ask us. We'll be there," Biden said in giving a message to the people of Florida.

Officials from FEMA were already in the area getting an idea of what kind of support may be needed.

Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett says that early rescue efforts were hampered because the collapse occurred at nighttime.

"It was just so dangerous and so dark," Burkett said. "I know they were coming back at daylight, so I know they're out there right now looking."

It's currently unclear what caused the building to collapse.

"I was born here and buildings just don't fall down, never. Never," Burkett told reporters at a press conference. "I mean it's the most shocking thing that I think we've seen ever. It looks like an earthquake."

According to Scripps station WPTV, the 12-story condominium was built in 1981 in the southeast corner of Surfside, on the beach. It had a few two-bedroom units currently on the market, with asking prices of $600,000 to $700,000, police said.

Officials said that about half of the building's 130 units collapsed.

Burkett said that the city and the Red Cross are looking into housing options for those displaced from the building. He added that those staying at a nearby 50-unit hotel had been evacuated out of an abundance of caution.

MDFR says it has set up a family reunification center near the scene.