At least one person has died in a partial collapse of a 12-story Miami-area building early Thursday, with emergency personnel continuing to carry out a massive search and rescue effort for others who may have been inside.
Miami-Dade Fire and Rescue tweeted around 2:30 a.m. that more than 80 of its units were “on scene with assistance from municipal fire departments” at the site of the collapse in the Miami-area town of Surfside.
Ray Jadallah, chief of operations for the Miami-Dade fire department, said at a press conference held later in the morning Thursday that about 55 apartment units of the 136-unit building had collapsed.
The Miami-Dade Police Department, which has assumed control over the investigation into the collapse, confirmed that at least one person had died.
Jadallah said at the press briefing that authorities had rescued 35 people trapped inside the building.
He added that an additional 10 people were “assessed and treated,” with two individuals transported to local hospitals.
The fire department tweeted later that it had set up a family reunification center "for anyone looking for unaccounted or missing relatives" as authorities continue their rescue operations.
UPDATE: The correct address for the family reunification center is 9301 Collins Avenue. https://t.co/Mb5O5TJLjx— Miami-Dade Fire Rescue (@MiamiDadeFire) June 24, 2021
Video posted on social media by local NBC affiliate WTVJ showed first responders rescuing a boy from some of the rubble.
Authorities said they had not yet confirmed how many people were inside the building when it collapsed, nor what caused the destruction.
A strong storm with lightning and possible rainfall was moving into the area as first responders continued their rescue efforts.
The storm temporarily delayed the start of Thursday's press conference, and lightning strikes forced officials and reporters to move their outdoor press briefing to a different area.
Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava (D) during the briefing urged community members to allow fire and rescue officials "to do their work."
"Every minute in this search can make a huge difference," she added.
Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett told CNN Thursday, “This is a horrific catastrophe. In the United States, buildings just don’t fall down.”
The mayor said the building was undergoing work to its roof but did not say if this may have been a factor in Thursday's disaster.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantisRon DeSantisChicago sues police union over refusal to comply with vaccine mandate Crist says as Florida governor he would legalize marijuana, expunge criminal records Big businesses are siding against Texas in mandate fight MORE (R) tweeted Thursday that the state had sent emergency response personnel to Surfside to assist in ongoing rescue efforts.
"Thank you to those who have responded to the tragic building collapse in Surfside," the governor wrote.
Thank you to those who have responded to the tragic building collapse in Surfside. These first responders saved lives. The state has emergency response personnel on site and will assist in any way it can.— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) June 24, 2021
Florida Sen. Rick Scott (R) also said that he had been in contact with Miami-Dade fire rescue and police officials and pledged to "offer my support and any resources they may need."
Ann and I are praying for everyone impacted by the terrible tragedy in Surfside and all of our brave first responders working search and rescue. I just spoke with @MiamiDadeFire Chief Alan Cominsky and @MDPD_Director to offer my support and any resources they may need. https://t.co/ugqwFXUWuW— Rick Scott (@SenRickScott) June 24, 2021
Updated at 10:03 a.m.