At least three people have died and up to 99 are still unaccounted for after a multi-story building partially collapsed in southern Florida’s Miami-Dade County early Thursday morning.
The collapse of the Champlain Towers South condominium in the small, beachside town of Surfside, about 6 miles north of Miami Beach, was reported around 1:30 a.m.
Champlain Tower South, a 12-story residential condo has 136 units, and 55 have collapsed, officials said
A massive search and rescue operation was launched before dawn and crews are still hoping to find survivors.
During an evening briefing on Thursday, officials said 102 people have been identified and declared safe.
“The building has literally pancaked,” Mayor Charles W. Burkett said during a morning press conference.
Burkett said at least 10 people, including the person who died, were treated for injuries on-site. One person was taken to the hospital in critical condition. He added that 15 families walked out of the building on their own.
The mayor said the collapse happened around 1:03 a.m. — meaning the building was likely filled with sleeping residents — and fears the death toll could rise.
“It’s heartbreaking because it doesn’t seem to me … that we will find people alive,” Burkett said.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis called the incident a “tragic, tragic situation.”
“We’ll hope for the best in terms of additional recoveries, but we are bracing for some bad news just given the destruction we are seeing,” he said during a press conference.
The Foreign Ministry of Paraguay said six Paraguayan nationals were in the building and still missing: Sophia López-Moreira, the sister of the country’s first Lady; her husband, Luis Pettengill; their three children; and their nanny, Lady Luna Villalba. President Mario Abdo Benítez canceled his events due to the incident.
Argentina’s Miami consulate said nine Argentine nationals are missing; Venezuela’s ambassador to the U.S. confirmed four Venezuelan nationals are missing; and Uruguay’s Foreign Ministry said three Uruguayan nationals have been affected, though their status is unclear.
See more photos below .
Colombia’s Foreign Ministry also reported that six Colombian nationals resided in the building and officials are still trying to determine whether they were there at the time of the collapse.