NLarge-scale operation in the sunny US state of Florida: At least one person was killed in the partial collapse of a twelve-story apartment building near Miami Beach. 99 people are still missing. The mayor of Miami-Dade, Daniella Levine Cava, said on Thursday (local time) at the disaster in Surfside. The whereabouts of 102 people from the residential complex have been clarified – they are safe. Levine Cava stressed that the rescue workers worked tirelessly to look for possible missing people under the rubble. The cause of the accident, which surprised the residents in Surfside not far from Miami Beach in their sleep, was initially not known.
“I cannot put it into words. It looks like it had been hit by a bomb, the building collapsed like a pancake, ”an eyewitness reported to NBC 6 South Florida. He also published a video showing how firefighters rescue a boy from the rubble of the building and place it on a stretcher.
“The building shook and when I looked outside I couldn’t see anything. I thought it was a storm. But when the dust settled, two thirds of the house were gone, ”another told CBS 4 Miami. The broken facade and pieces of furniture from the house could be seen in photos and videos. Between the remains of the building and a pool: only dust and debris.
The affected building is an ocean view apartment building near the beach known as the Champlain Towers. It was built in the 1980s, wrote the newspaper “The Miami Herald”. The area was cordoned off after the accident around 2 a.m. local time, and the police warned not to obstruct the rescue work. “I instruct everyone to stay away from the area so that the fire brigade can do their job,” said a police spokesman, according to media reports.
Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said he jogs past the building every day. A crane was used for construction work on the house. He was stunned to see such a tragedy in his place. “It’s less likely than lightning. It just doesn’t happen. You don’t see buildings collapse in America, ”he told reporters. The CNN station said that the building had already withstood hurricanes. So why the collapse now?
At first it was also unclear how many people were in the building at the time of the collapse. The presence of guests is logged, but the owner does not. “The facility manager indicated that the building was pretty full,” said Burkett. The building has 12 floors and more than 130 residential units, said Miami-Dade District Mayor Daniella Levine Cava. Half of it was affected by the collapse. Looking for possible missing persons under the rubble, Cava said: “Every minute counts.”
Among the missing were at least four Argentinians, as the newspaper “La Nación” reported, citing diplomatic circles. Many wealthy Argentines own vacation rentals in the Miami area, or come to Florida to shop or vacation. In view of the sluggish vaccination campaign in their home country, many Argentines had recently traveled to Miami to be vaccinated.
Miami Beach with its famous promenade, Ocean Drive, as well as the white sandy beaches and palm trees is a popular tourist destination, also because of its museums and Art Deco architecture.