Thursday, August 5, 2021

99 missing in US condo collapse

Witnesses say construction work on the roof had just taken place and a building inspector had visited the property.

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A large-scale rescue operation was continuing Thursday evening at the site of a collapsed 12-storey condominium block in Surfside, Miami, where authorities said at least one person was killed, 10 injured and nearly 100 missing.

The building collapsed just after midnight local time from unknown causes.

Police have launched a homicide inquiry, according to Sally Heyman, a county commissioner who represents Surfside.

“It’s the unimaginable,” Daniella Levine Cava, the Miami-Dade mayor, said. “A massive search and rescue mission is under way. We are going to do everything we can possibly do to identify and rescue those who have been trapped in the rubble.”

More than 80 fire-rescue crews attended the scene in Surfside, a small, oceanfront city just north of Miami Beach. Early video of the aftermath of the collapse showed a boy being pulled from the wreckage, one of 35 people rescued alive, the Miami-Dade commission said.

“They brought dogs who can sniff for survivors in the rubble,” Eliana Salzhauer, a Surfside commissioner, told the Miami Herald. “They aren’t turning up very much. No one is celebrating anyone being pulled out.”

Salzhauer confirmed earlier reports that recent construction work on the roof had taken place and said residents told her a building inspector had visited the property on Wednesday. But she said it was too soon to speculate on the likely cause.

Jimmy Patronis, a Florida cabinet member and the state’s fire marshal, told reporters that crews had heard noises as they sifted through the wreckage. “The rescuers are hearing sounds from the rubble. It’s kind of hit or miss. You get into the zone where you are so passionate and so focused and so determined to make sure you are doing everything possible to save a life in an event like this,” he said.

Earlier, Frank Rollason, the director of the county’s emergency management department, said workers believed that they had rescued all reachable survivors.

“Everybody who is alive is out of the building,” he told the Herald.

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