SURFSIDE, Fla. (WPRI) — Rescue workers have been searching through the night for the 99 people still unaccounted for after a condo building partially collapsed outside Miami, Florida early Thursday morning.
Thirty-five people have been pulled from the rubble and one person has been confirmed dead, but that number is expected to rise.
A wing of the 12-story beachfront condo building in Surfside came down with a roar around 1:30 a.m. Dozens of survivors were pulled out, and rescuers kept up a desperate search for more with the fear the death toll could climb sharply. Officials did not know how many were in the tower when it fell.
Amid the search and rescue effort engineers are also searching for clues into what brought the building down.
The Surfside mayor said the roof was being fixed on the condo at the time, but local firefighters, as well as county building officials, are looking into the cause of the collapse.
Video of the collapse will be helpful for structural engineers to figure out the exact cause, or causes, and they’ll eventually search through the debris, but the focus right now is finding people who may be alive and trapped.
A Florida International University Professor told CNN that the Champlain Towers South condo showed signs of sinking — that was back in the 1990s.
Northeastern University Civil Engineering Professor Mehrdad Sasani said it was probably not just one factor in play here.
“In general when you have a collapse like this, there is more than one issue in the sequence of design, construction, deterioration over time, dangerous and current condition,” Sasani said.
Workers don’t know how safe the remaining part of the structure is so they’re not using heavy machinery to sift through, especially if people are still alive and trapped.
Witnesses say they heard banging, but no shouting from the rubble.
Residents of the complex included citizens from around the world. Israel has said 20 of their citizens are missing and 22 people from four South American countries are missing.
Early Friday morning, President Joe Biden authorized an emergency declaration in the state of Florida, which allows for federal and state aid in the rescue and recovery efforts.