Nearly 100 people missing as oceanfront Miami-area building collapses

Miami, United States ● Fri, June 25, 2021

On Thursday, rescue personnel combed through tons of wreckage in search of survivors after a portion of an oceanfront apartment complex collapsed overnight near Miami, leaving at least one person dead and about 100 people missing. Hours after a big chunk of the Champlain Towers South condominium in Surfside, a barrier island community across Biscayne Bay from the city, crumbled to the ground, search teams heard pounding and other noises but no voices emerging from the heaps of wreckage, authorities said. It was unclear what caused the 40-year-old high-rise to collapse in a heap in a couple of seconds, while local officials reported the 12-story skyscraper was undergoing roof repairs.

Mayor Daniella Levine Cava of Miami-Dade County told reporters that 99 individuals were still missing 18 hours after the building collapsed, however some may not have been in the structure at the time. She added that another 102 people whose whereabouts were earlier unknown have been found and “certified secure.” 35 people were evacuated from the half of the high-rise that remained intact, according to a fire official, and emergency teams used trained dogs and drones to search for survivors, pulling two people from the wreckage, one of whom was deceased.

“Firefighters and rescuers are on the scene with their search teams and dogs. Right now, it’s a really unsafe place. Very insecure, “Earlier in the day, Miami-Dade Police Director Freddy Ramirez stated. “They’re in search-and-rescue mode right now, and they’ll remain for a while. They are not going to give up. They’re going to work into the wee hours of the morning. They are not going to quit.” The number of known casualties and individuals missing, according to Ramirez, is expected to fluctuate.

He stated, “I don’t want to create false expectations.” “For those families and the community, this is a devastating scenario.” Vice Chair of the County Board of Commissioners Oliver Gilbert stated: “All I have to do now is beg everyone to pray.” Early in the day, Sally Heyman, a Miami-Dade County commissioner, told CNN that officials were aware of 51 people who “allegedly” live in the building, which is home to a mix of year-round residents and part-time “snow birds” who spend the winter months in Florida.

Officials claimed the complex, which was erected in 1981, was undergoing a recertification process that would necessitate renovations, and that another building was being built on an adjacent plot. Levine Cava told reporters, “Obviously, there were structural difficulties – the building did fall.” She said structural experts and firefighters were working together to shore up the parts of the building that were still standing.

Jenny Urgelles awoke to see that her parents’ apartment building had collapsed. According to WSVN 7 News, she called them, but their phones went straight to voicemail. She told a local Fox affiliate, “I’m clinging on to hope.” WPLG Local 10, a Miami television station, captured footage of a rescue squad lifting a youngster from a pile of debris.

According to local media, the search operation was hindered by at least one fire that broke out at the scene when rescue services doused the rubble with water. At about 1:30 a.m., footage from a nearby security camera revealed an entire side of the building toppling in two parts, one after the other, in billowing clouds of dust (0530 GMT).

“It sounded like a burst of lightning or thunder at first,” said Barry Cohen, a former vice mayor of Surfside and a building resident. “But then it just kept going and going and going for at least 15 to 30 seconds,” says the narrator.

Kamala Harris will visit a US border patrol facility during her trip to Texas

During her visit to the US-Mexico border on Friday, US Vice President Kamala Harris will visit the El Paso, Texas, central processing center, which is a US Customs & Border Protection facility, and meet migrants, according to spokesperson Symone Sanders. This will be Harris’ first trip to the border since becoming Vice President and taking the lead on immigration problems.

During a conference call with reporters on Thursday, Sanders said the administration inherited “a flawed and inhumane immigration system.” “The practices of the previous administration resulted in border instability, family separation, terrible conditions, and poor diplomacy toward and with Central America.”

“The border visit tomorrow is about the repercussions,” Sanders added, referring to Vice President Biden’s travel to Guatemala and Mexico earlier this year. Republicans attacked Harris when she visited Mexico and Guatemala last month, despite the fact that she has previously visited the US-Mexico border as a senator and attorney general from California. The travel to El Paso, announced just a day before, appeared to be the consequence of mounting pressure on her to undertake the high-profile trip.

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