Nearly 100 people remain unaccounted for Friday morning, a day after a 12-story beachfront condominium building just north of Miami collapsed, killing at least one person.
A wing of the residential building in Surfside, Florida, came down with a roar around 1:30 a.m. On video footage captured from nearby, the center of the building appeared to fall first, with a section nearest the ocean teetering and coming down seconds later as a huge dust cloud swallowed the neighborhood.
Fire Rescue personnel and others worked through the night Thursday in hopes of finding survivors.
Early Friday, President Joe Biden declared a state of emergency authorizing funding and other disaster relief to Surfside, a small, tight-knit community with about 6,000 residents.
Residents screamed for help as they sought to flee the building , and some were plucked from the building by firefighters using ladders. Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett confirmed that at least one person had died but warned the death toll was likely to rise.
Here’s what we know right now:
Investigators working to determine what caused the collapse
Authorities have yet to say what may have caused the collapse near 88th Street and Collins Avenue. Police blocked nearby roads, and dozens of fire and rescue vehicles, ambulances and police cars converged on the area.
A researcher at Florida International University said the building was constructed on reclaimed wetlands and was determined to be unstable a year ago. Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said roofing work was being done on the building.
According to the Miami-Dade County Police Department, authorities will investigate the incident after search and rescue operations are completed, CNN reported.
Residential building was undergoing an inspection
Built in 1981, the building was only 40 years old. Florida requires all buildings and properties to be inspected every 40 years to be recertified and Miami-Dade County officials were in the process of inspecting the building before its collapse, according to the Miami Herald.
The newspaper reported the inspections examine whether a structure is stable and safe and the building’s association recently hired an engineer to examine electrical and structural changes.
Engineers were coming through to inspect the building, said Oren Cytrynbaum, an attorney who owns two units in the building along with his family and wasn’t there when it collapsed. According to Cytrynbaum, there were some repairs done to the roof before the fall but nothing else he was aware of.
USA TODAY Investigation:Collapsed Miami condo had been sinking into Earth as early as the 1990s, researchers say
First responders ‘not giving up’ in search for survivors
Crews donning hardhats and accompanied by search and rescue dogs scavenging through the piles of concrete and cables searching for any signs of life. Thunderstorms, heavy damage and changing conditions hindered efforts to locate victims, but first responders were “not giving up” the search, said Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett on CNN.
They looked for gaps in the wreckage and used a garage under the building as a tunnel system to maneuver throughout the building. Ray Jadallah, assistant fire chief of Miami-Dade Fire & Rescue, said earlier Thursday crews were using sonar equipment to detect any movements in the debris and ensure safety for crews.
The equipment detected what Jadallah said sounded like “banging.”
“We did receive sounds, not necessarily people talking, but sounds,” he said, describing it as possible banging under the layers of debris.
‘The building is literally pancaked’:Heartbreaking images capture the Surfside building collapse and rescue efforts
About the accounted and unaccounted for
Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett has confirmed that at least one person died. Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said officials were able to account for 102 people thus far, but 99 were still unaccounted for.
Relatives of the first lady of Paraguay were among the 99 people who are unaccounted for, Leticia Robertti, a spokesperson for the Consul General of Paraguay in Miami, told USA TODAY.
They included the sister of the first Lady, Sofia Lopez Moreira Bó, the sister’s husband, Luis Pettengill, their three children and their nanny, Lady Luna Villalba. Other Paraguayans were also among those unaccounted for.
About 20 Jewish people were also among the unaccounted for, including some with Israeli citizenship, Maor Elbaz-Starinsky, Consul General of Israel in Miami, told USA TODAY.
Some residents had been plucked from the building by firefighters using ladders. Other searchers were trying to reach a trapped child whose parents were believed to be dead. In one case, rescuers saved a mother and child, but the woman’s leg had to be amputated to remove her from the rubble.
‘I have no hope’:Loved ones await news, survivors flee after condo building partially collapses near Miami
Contributing: John Bacon, Romina Ruiz-Goiriena, and Christal Hayes, USA TODAY; The Associated Press.