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4 dead, 159 missing in 12-story condo building collapse near Miami

Part of the 12-story oceanfront Champlain Towers South Condo, with more than 100 units at 8777 Collins Ave., collapsed around 2 a.m. on June 24, 2021. (Amy Beth Bennett/Sun Sentinel/TNS)
June 25, 2021

At least 159 people are unaccounted for and four people are dead after a 12-story apartment building partially collapsed Thursday in Surfside, Fla., a town outside Miami.

During a press conference Friday morning, Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said 120 people have been located, but said the number of missing and dead could increase.

“The search and rescue team worked throughout the night and it was a very active scene from above and below,” Cava said. “We also brought heavy machinery onto the site to assist with the operation.”

The city has set up a reunification center for families impacted by the disaster, and Mayor Cava said the city is providing “food, shelter, cash to assist with basic needs, and grief counseling, obviously a very critical component as we move forward and people are anxiously waiting for news of their loved ones.”

“We are going to work as hard as we can to continue our search and rescue effort. That is our priority,” she said. “That is where we’re focused and protecting our first responders on the scene.”

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue shared images of the scene on Twitter on Friday morning, writing that emergency personnel continue to “work tirelessly as search and rescue efforts are ongoing.”

“All the resources we have available, including local assets from partner agencies are being brought in to assist,” the agency wrote.

The rescue team also asked anyone who lives in building to fill out a Wellness Check Form “as part of Miami-Dade County’s efforts to ensure all tenants of the building are located.”

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency for Miami-Dade County Thursday night in an effort to expedite resources to aid emergency personnel with the collapse.

“Thank you to those who have responded to the tragic building collapse in Surfside. These first responders saved lives,” DeSantis tweeted. “The state has emergency response personnel on site and will assist in any way it can.”

Mayor Cava thanked the governor on Twitter, saying the order was “critical to marshal the full resources needed in this crisis.”

DeSantis’ order came after Cava declared a local state of emergency “to allocate the necessary resources we need here on the ground.”

On Friday, President Joe Biden also approved an emergency declaration for Florida, authorizing the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to “coordinate all disaster relief efforts which have the purpose of alleviating the hardship and suffering caused by the emergency on the local population, and to provide appropriate assistance for required emergency measures.”