At least 99 people unaccounted for after deadly Miami-area building collapse

At least 99 people unaccounted for after deadly Miami-area building collapse
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At least 99 people were unaccounted for Thursday following the fatal collapse of a building near Miami.

Miami-Dade Commissioner Sally Heyman and the Miami-Dade Police Department told The Hill that 99 people were unaccounted for as of Thursday afternoon.

Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Cava confirmed that number during a press conference later Thursday afternoon.

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Cava also revealed that 102 people have been accounted for by authorities thus far.

The number of unaccounted individuals, according to Heyman, refers to people with residential units in the collapsed building in Surfside, Fla., who have been unreachable since the incident and are not in the hospital.

She noted, however, that it is not clear if those individuals were in the building at the time of its collapse.

The number came from the Surfside Community Center, which is working with the American Red Cross on assistance and reunification efforts.

At least one person is confirmed dead following the partial collapse of the 12-story Miami-area building. The initial call reporting the building’s collapse came in at 1:38 a.m. on Thursday, according to Cava. 

Authorities have pulled 35 people from the structure, and two others from the rubble, according to Ray Jadallah, chief of operations and assistant fire chief for the Miami-Dade fire department. He said a total of 11 patients have been treated, four of which were transported.

Jadallah added that authorities have heard sounds coming from the rubble, but no voices.

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“All operations are occurring underneath the rubble. They're occurring underneath the parking garage where we have teams of firefighters constantly as they continue to making cuts, breaches and placing sonar devices, search cams to locate victims. As we make one hole we access a floor, we continue to the various areas,” Jadallah said at a press conference.

“We did receive sounds, not necessarily people talking, but sounds. What sounds like people banging. Well, not people but sounds of a possibility of a banging. Short that we haven't heard any voices coming from the pile,” he added.

Newly-released video footage shows the moments that roughly 55 of the more than 130 apartment units fell to the ground.

A large search and rescue effort is still underway for people who may have been inside the building the moment it collapsed.

Cava told reporters that the two side buildings near the structure that collapsed have been evacuated.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantisRon DeSantisPresident Biden's vaccination plan is Constitutional – and necessary Faith leaders call on Congress to lead the response to a global pandemic Democrats lean into vaccine mandates ahead of midterms MORE said the incident marks a “tragic day,” but stressed that the state’s search and rescue operation is “ongoing,” adding, “They’re not going to rest.”

“Right now we have that fire rescue, they are in search and rescue mode. They are trying to identify survivors. I know they have made contact with some and they're doing everything they can to save lives. And that is ongoing, and they're not going to rest,” DeSantis said at a press conference Thursday afternoon.

Ray Jadallah, chief of operations for the Miami-Dade fire department, said at a press conference Thursday morning that authorities had so far rescued several dozen people trapped inside the building, adding that 10 more were “assessed and treated,” with two individuals transported to local hospitals.

Video posted on local media by local NBC affiliate WTVJ captured first responders rescuing a boy from some of the rubble.

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About five agencies are assisting local, county and city government in responding to the incident, according to Kevin Guthrie, the director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management.

Additionally, he said members of the state emergency response team have been activated to help respond to the building collapse.

DeSantis said the state has “hope” that it will be able to identify additional survivors.

He cautioned, however, that the effort to determine what caused the building to topple “is not necessarily going to be immediate.”

“They are going to have engineers looking at this to try to identify what happened and what was the problematic occurrence. And so that — probably, you're not going to have those answers immediately, but I know that they are diligently going to be working to be able to do that,” he added.

Cava confirmed during a press conference later on Thursday that engineers are on the site looking into why the building collapsed.

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Miami-Dade Police Department Director Alfredo Ramirez noted, however, that the force is first conducting the search and rescue, which will be followed by an investigation into the causes of the collapse.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman SchultzDeborah (Debbie) Wasserman SchultzOn The Money — Presented by Wells Fargo — Democrats advance tax plan through hurdles Florida Democrat says vaccines, masks are key to small-business recovery DNC members grow frustrated over increasing White House influence MORE (D-Fla.), whose congressional district includes Surfside, called the incident “enormously devastating.”

“I just had a chance to view the site up close, and I mean, the humanity that you see, the daily lives, the evidence of just people living their daily lives and everything, everything, evaporated in an instant. It's just, it's enormously devastating,” she said during a press conference in Florida on Thursday.

The congresswoman also said the state has been working with the White House to ensure that a disaster declaration is made, which will allow the state to receive federal housing assistance.

She said the White House is “already preparing to make sure everything is in place for when they receive the emergency disaster declaration from the governor.”

Updated: 5:59 p.m.