What to Know About the Building Collapse in Surfside, Fla.


Firefighters, search dogs and emergency crews scoured rubble for survivors of a residential building that collapsed Thursday morning just north of Miami Beach.

Here’s what we know.

Survivors said they were jolted awake around 1:30 a.m. by fire alarms, falling debris and the feeling of the ground trembling.

Fiorella Terenzi, an associate professor at Florida International University who lives in a neighboring building, Champlain Towers East, said she woke up early Thursday to a loud noise.

The sound “was like a big thump all of a sudden,” she said. At first Ms. Terenzi thought it was thunder, but then she heard sirens. When she left the building, dust was everywhere.

“I could see that half of the building of the Champlain Towers South was collapsed like a sandwich,” Ms. Terenzi said.

At least four people were killed, and the authorities fear many more fatalities.

“A number of people” were rushed to nearby hospitals from the rubble of the collapsed building, a police spokesman said. At least two people were in critical condition, according to a spokesman for Aventura Hospital and Medical Center.

Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida told reporters that officials were “bracing for some bad news” but still hopeful to find and save survivors.

As many as 159 people were unaccounted for by Friday morning, officials said. The authorities have stressed that the numbers will continue to shift as they determine how many people were actually in the building overnight.

About 35 people were rescued from the intact part of the building, and two have been pulled from the rubble, said Ray Jadallah, a Miami-Dade Fire Rescue assistant fire chief.

The beachside building, Champlain Towers South at 8777 Collins Ave., was built in 1981.

It was 13 stories tall and had 135 units. At least half of them collapsed.

The area has a robust Jewish community and longtime ties to families from South America. Many Jewish and South American residents were reported to be among the missing.

The authorities did not give a reason for the building’s collapse. At a late-afternoon news conference on Thursday, the county’s mayor, Daniella Levine Cava, said it was a “structural engineering question.”

The building had been about to undergo extensive repairs for rusted steel and damaged concrete, Kenneth S. Direktor, a lawyer involved in the project, said on Thursday. The repairs had been scheduled as part of a review and recertification process for 40-year-old buildings.

Mr. Direktor said that he had seen nothing to suggest that the collapse had anything to do with the issues identified in the engineering review, adding that any waterfront building of that age would have some level of corrosion and concrete deterioration.

The police said that while search-and-rescue efforts were being prioritized on Thursday, officials would soon start a thorough investigation into the cause of the collapse.



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