Responders are scrambling to search for survivors and victims after a 12-story residential building collapsed early Thursday morning. The building, known as the Champlain Towers South in Surfside, had approximately 55 of its 138 units destroyed during the devastating incident.
During a press conference, Surfside Mayor Charles W. Burkett confirmed that one person is dead and that two survivors had been pulled from the rubble. The building collapsed at approximately 1:30 a.m., and 51 people remain unaccounted for as of 10 a.m.
"A massive search and rescue is underway, and we know we are going to do everything we can possibly to identify and rescue those who have been trapped in the rubble," Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said Thursday morning.
Officials Fear the Worst After Miami Apartment Collapse
Governor Ron DeSantis confirmed that rescuers are hoping to find additional survivors. However, he also said that they are “bracing for some bad news, just given the destruction we’re seeing.”
Witnesses indicate that one of the two people pulled from the rubble was a young boy. Video from the scene shows responders helping people from the portions of the building that are still standing. Some of them required rescue via a bucket on top of a fire ladder.
The boy was noticed by a good Samaritan, Nicholas Balboa, who happened to be walking his dog near the building at the time of its collapse. He and another man were searching the rubble and heard someone shouting for help. They noticed the boy’s hand reaching out of the rubble.
"He was sticking his hand up ... through the debris. And I could see his hand and his fingers wiggling,” Balboa told reporters.
The boy was found beneath a mattress and bed frame as responders cleared rubble to free him.
Kimberly Morales, a resident of a nearby building, described the confusion and panic immediately after the collapse to CNN.
"I woke everyone up in the room because when I looked out the window, I saw everyone outside," Morales commented. "I told everyone to hurry up and leave the building."
Barry Cohen, a resident of a section of the building that’s still standing, described what it was like in the moments after the collapse. Cohen described opening his door to leave the building, looking down the hallway, and seeing nothing there but debris and dust.
"Knowing what it looked like outside my door, I thought that any minute we could be that same pile of rubble," he said.
Our firm will continue to follow any updates as they're released by officials.