Nearly 100 people remain unaccounted for Friday morning, a day after a 12-story beachfront condominium building just north of Miami collapsed, killing at least one person.
A wing of the residential building in Surfside, Florida, came down with a roar around 1:30 a.m. Thursday. On video footage captured from nearby, the center of the building appeared to fall first, with a section nearest the ocean teetering and coming down seconds later as a huge dust cloud swallowed the neighborhood.
ABC News reported the death toll had risen to three people, but calls to fire and police officials were not returned Friday morning.
Fire Rescue personnel and others worked through the night Thursday in hopes of finding survivors.
Early Friday, President Joe Biden declared a state of emergency authorizing funding and other disaster relief to Surfside, a small, tight-knit community with about 6,000 residents.
Here’s what we know right now:
Hot and muggy morning for first responders
Rescuers will wrestle with typical South Florida summer weather through the weekend, including spotty morning showers.
The National Weather Service said temperatures would reach a high of 86º in Miami on Friday. Rain chances are between 50% and 70% through the weekend but accumulation amounts each day in the Miami area are expected to be a half-inch or lower.
Winds were also blowing 15 mph, with gusts up to 21 mph.
In area around the building, the air was thick with debris and dust. The streets nearby were mostly empty except for emergency workers, news media and a few local residents milling about. The reunification center for people trying to find their families was still abuzz.
Area getting thick with smoke or debris dust again. Very hot and humid. First Responders and media everywhere. Otherwise eerily quiet. @pbpost #miamibuildingcollapse #Surfsidecollapse #MiamiBeach @USATODAY pic.twitter.com/cvqKcsxvop
— Wendy Rhodes (@WendyRhodesFl) June 25, 2021
Family members swabbed for DNA at reunification center
After hours without any news Thursday afternoon, police officers arrived at the reunification center.
Officers told families they would come inside one at a time and, depending on what they were told, they would be swabbed for DNA on the police clinic van parked adjacent to the community center building.
Some broke out into tears upon emerging from the room. A young woman wearing a long white blouse and jeans fainted before making it to the van.
Investigators working to determine what caused the collapse
Authorities have yet to say what may have caused the collapse near 88th Street and Collins Avenue. Police blocked nearby roads, and dozens of fire and rescue vehicles, ambulances and police cars converged on the area.
A researcher at Florida International University said the building was constructed on reclaimed wetlands and was determined to be unstable a year ago. Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said roofing work was being done on the building.
According to the Miami-Dade County Police Department, authorities will investigate the incident after search and rescue operations are completed, CNN reported.
Residential building was undergoing an inspection
Built in 1981, the building was only 40 years old. Florida requires all buildings and properties to be inspected every 40 years to be recertified and Miami-Dade County officials were in the process of inspecting the building before its collapse, according to the Miami Herald.
The newspaper reported the inspections examine whether a structure is stable and safe and the building’s association recently hired an engineer to examine electrical and structural changes.
Engineers were coming through to inspect the building, said Oren Cytrynbaum, an attorney who owns two units in the building along with his family and wasn’t there when it collapsed. According to Cytrynbaum, there were some repairs done to the roof before the fall but nothing else he was aware of.
USA TODAY Investigation:Collapsed Miami condo had been sinking into Earth as early as the 1990s, researchers say
First responders ‘not giving up’ in search for survivors
Crews donning hardhats and accompanied by search and rescue dogs scavenging through the piles of concrete and cables searching for any signs of life. Thunderstorms, heavy damage and changing conditions hindered efforts to locate victims, but first responders were “not giving up” the search, said Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett on CNN.
They looked for gaps in the wreckage and used a garage under the building as a tunnel system to maneuver throughout the building. Ray Jadallah, assistant fire chief of Miami-Dade Fire & Rescue, said earlier Thursday crews were using sonar equipment to detect any movements in the debris and ensure safety for crews.