Thursday June 24th 2021
Collapsed skyscraper near Miami
One dead – another 99 residents missing
Dust and debris, that’s what remains of the Champlain Tower. At least one person dies in the partial collapse of the Florida skyscraper. Rescue workers search for survivors in the rubble. There is still no trace of dozens of residents. US President Biden announces aid.
In the US state of Florida at least one person was killed in the partial collapse of a twelve-story apartment building. The search for other possible victims in Surfside continues, the police said on Twitter. The town’s mayor, Charles Burkett, told NBC that at least two people had been taken to hospital, one of whom died. According to him, ten injured were rescued from the rubble. The fire brigade says that they saved a total of 37 people from the building.
The whereabouts of 51 residents are currently unclear. “They were probably in the building at the time of the collapse,” Sally Heyman, Miami-Dade County representative, to which Surfside belongs, told the Washington Post. “We, their friends or families have not heard from them since the collapse.”
The police even spoke of 99 possible residents who are still being searched for. It is still unclear how many people were in the building at the time of the accident, the chief of the local police station, Freddy Ramirez, told several local media. The whereabouts of 102 residents have been clarified and they are safe.
Biden announces help
Hundreds of helpers are on duty to look for possible missing persons in the rubble of the building. The cause of the collapse, which surprised residents in Surfside, not far from the coastal metropolis of Miami Beach, is unclear.
US President Joe Biden pledged that the federal government would be ready to help wherever it was needed. The disaster control agency FEMA is also called in to help to temporarily accommodate the residents of the house and to provide them with food. Addressing the Florida authorities, the president said wherever the federal government could help, it would do so. “We are there.”
Just dust and debris
“I can’t put it into words. It looks like a bomb hit, the building collapsed like a pancake,” an eyewitness reported to NBC 6 South Florida. He also released 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 was 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”. There should be more than 100 condominiums in it.
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 department can do their job,” said a police spokesman.
“Doesn’t see any buildings collapsing in America”
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?
It is also unclear how many people were in the building at the time of the collapse. Mayor Burkett said the presence of guests is logged, but the owner does not. “The facility manager made me understand that the building was pretty full.”
The mayor of Miami-Dade district, Daniella Levine Cava, added that there are more than 130 residential units in the twelve-story building. Half of it was affected by the collapse. Looking for possible missing persons under the rubble, Cava said: “Every minute counts.”
At least four Argentinians missing
At least four Argentinians were among the missing, as reported by the newspaper “La Nación”, citing diplomatic circles. Many wealthy Argentines own or vacation apartments in the Miami area. 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.