At least 159 missing after partial building collapse near Miami

By Aditi Sangal, Meg Wagner and Melissa Macaya, CNN

Updated 6:57 a.m. ET, June 26, 2021
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11:46 p.m. ET, June 25, 2021

Building's recertification report was not a red flag for collapse, condo association attorney says

From CNN's Deanna Hackney

Firefighters battle a blaze at the 12-story oceanfront condo, Champlain Towers South, on Friday in Surfside, Florida.
Firefighters battle a blaze at the 12-story oceanfront condo, Champlain Towers South, on Friday in Surfside, Florida. Al Diaz/Miami Herald/AP

Donna DiMaggio Berger, an attorney for the Champlain Towers condo association, said the board had not been privy to any information that would have foreshadowed Thursday's disaster. 

The building was undergoing a 40-year recertification process, Berger said, adding that the board only knew what the engineer's certification report included in terms of repair work.

"Typical things that an engineer looks for in a certification report in Miami-Dade and Broward County, which are the two counties that require this kind of certification, is a review of the roof, the HVAC system, electrical, plumbing, and the building envelope," Berger said.

"But certainly, there was nothing hazardous that was outlined in that report, anything that would have proven to be a danger to life."

Berger added that the board had been aware of research done in the '90s showing the area where the building collapsed had signs of land subsidence -- but said "we want to dig into" whether the researchers informed city and state authorities of their findings.

Berger reiterated the building was a safe place to live, as far as she and the board members knew, and some of them called Champlain Towers home. 

11:40 p.m. ET, June 25, 2021

Crews are prepared to treat patients at the scene, Miami-Dade rescuer says

From CNN's Lauren Mascarenhas

People watch recovery operations near the site of an oceanfront condo building that partially collapsed in Surfside, Fla., on Friday, June 25.
People watch recovery operations near the site of an oceanfront condo building that partially collapsed in Surfside, Fla., on Friday, June 25. Gerald Herbert/AP

Members of search and rescue crews at the Surfside collapse site are prepared to treat patients, said Dr. Howard Lieberman, a trauma surgeon with the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Urban Search and Rescue Task Force.

"Obviously if we find patients, we'll treat them," Lieberman said on Friday. "If patients need to be removed from the pile, but there's a limb that's caught or mangled, we can amputate that on the scene."

"We can provide any kind of care we need to provide to stabilize them, so that they get transferred to the hospital," he added.

Lieberman noted he is also there to ensure rescue teams are safe.

"My primary responsibility is to make sure that guys that are up on that pile and searching, stay safe," he said. "If they get injured, we take care of them."

9:49 p.m. ET, June 25, 2021

Rescue crews from Mexico and Israel are assisting in the search effort

From CNN’s Jamiel Lynch

There are currently four task force teams working on search and rescue at the site, Miami-Dade Fire Chief Alan Cominsky said at a news conference tonight.

The task force includes Florida Task Force 1, which consists of firefighters from the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Department as well as three other task force teams from the state.

They are also utilizing members of task force teams from Mexico and Israel, which arrived this morning. 

Cominsky did not have the exact number of personnel from Mexico and Israel that are assisting at the site.

9:26 p.m. ET, June 25, 2021

Surfside building official says they were waiting on 40-year certification inspection report on the condo

From CNN’s Curt Devine

Jim McGuinness, the town of Surfside, Florida’s building official, said at a meeting Friday that the town was awaiting a 40-year certification inspection report from Champlain Towers South before it collapsed.

McGuinness said he expects requirements for the recertification of buildings to change in light of the disaster. He said he believes the mandated time period for recertification will be shortened to 20- or 30-year periods. 

McGuinness said he was personally on the condo’s roof only 14 hours before it collapsed as part of a secondary inspection, though he said there was no inordinate amount of “equipment or materials or anything on the roof that caught my building official’s eye that would make me alarmed as to this place collapsing.” 

He said the building had an in-progress roofing permit, “which was going on very, very well – great professional roofers.”

“I have two words for the cause of this: Under investigation,” McGuinness said.

9:25 p.m. ET, June 25, 2021

Miami-Dade rescuer says crews heard tapping yesterday, then it "dissipated"

From CNN’s Rebekah Riess

Dr. Howard Lieberman
Dr. Howard Lieberman CNN

A trauma surgeon with the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Urban Search and Rescue Task Force, Dr. Howard Lieberman, told CNN that rescue crews searching through the Surfside collapse site yesterday “did hear some tapping, there was some noise,” adding that the tapping kept up for a while and then, over the course of the day, “dissipated.”

However, Lieberman said crews are not giving up hope.

“I think these guys, you know, that's their mindset also, they're just going to keep going, keep going, keep going until, like I said, every stone is turned over and all the rubble is removed,” Lieberman said.

The search effort, Lieberman said, has been very emotional, as team find personal effects in the rubble.

“We're seeing stuffed animals, teddy bears, boxed of diapers, a child's bunk bed, and we're finding a lot of pictures, family pictures, and it's, it's a little bit more emotional than going somewhere, where you know there's no one, let's say for a hurricane where they had enough warning and they had evacuation time and they got out," the trauma surgeon said.

9:14 p.m. ET, June 25, 2021

Niece says her aunt and uncle are missing in the building collapse 

From CNN's Kelsie Smith

Claudio and Maria Bonnefoy
Claudio and Maria Bonnefoy Family photo

Bettina Obias told CNN that her aunt and uncle Maria and Claudio Bonnefoy are missing in the Surfside building collapse. 

Obias told CNN on Friday that her aunt and uncle lived on the 10th floor of the building. Claudio was a retired United Nations legal counsel and a relative of former Chilean President Michelle Bachelet. Maria worked as an International Monetary Fund budget official. 

"I'm trying to be strong because my aunt was a very strong woman," said Obias. "She was like a mother to me. She was the matriarch of the family."

Obias said when she learned that the building her family lived in collapsed yesterday, she quickly took an Uber to the site.

"As soon as I saw this, I fell apart pretty much," said Obias. "When I saw this, I knew that they were gone."

Obias said she is still holding on to a sliver of hope that someone missing in the collapse is still alive.

"If it's not my aunt or uncle, I hope it's somebody's father or son," she said 

9:07 p.m. ET, June 25, 2021

Architect says it will take months to figure out what caused Surfside building collapse

From CNN's Hollie Silverman

Kobi Karp, an architect and Miami resident, told CNN that it will take investigators months to figure out what caused the collapse of the Champlain Towers condo building in Surfside, Florida.

Forensic engineering will need to be done to determine the cause, Karp said.

"This is an event that we have never had before. You can look at it, you can speculate how it happened, but at the end of the day it will take us months to figure out," he explained.

He said that for part of the building to collapse while the other stood is a "mystery."

Karp said the building is not that old, having been built in 1981. He pointed out that there are many art deco buildings in south Florida that were built in the 1920s and 30s that are still standing.

Structural engineer Kit Miyamoto also spoke to CNN Friday night about the possible causes for the collapse.

He said it could be corrosion of the metal inside the column, settlement or sinking of one area of ground at a different rate than others, or a combination of different factors.

"The question is why the column failed?" he said, adding, "A building is actually hard to collapse. There's a lot of redundancies in the building system. That's why you don't see collapses like this."

Miyamoto pointed out that even in places like California where big earthquakes are common, collapses such as this are extremely rare.

Karp echoed Miyamoto's sentiments saying, "At the end of the day for this to crash like this is a very unique and special situation." 

8:54 p.m. ET, June 25, 2021

Heavy machinery will be used at collapse site to strategically help move debris, fire chief says

From CNN’s Jamiel Lynch

Miami-Dade Fire Chief Alan Cominsky said they are bringing in heavy equipment such as cranes and other machinery to strategically help move debris. 

Search and rescue crews are using sonar equipment, dogs and video cameras to help search through the debris, he said at a news conference Friday night, with the main focus being underneath from the parking garage.

Cominsky said the heavy equipment is a strategic process and extremely difficult. They look for areas of void where there could be patient survivability and use the equipment to help move the debris.

“Any glimpse of hopes that we have, any signals that we see that’s where want our primary focus. This is where we’ve been focused with the operation and looking for those voids,” he said.

8:52 p.m. ET, June 25, 2021

Rescue efforts in Surfside to continue through the night, Miami-Dade County mayor says

David Santiago/Miami Herald/AP
David Santiago/Miami Herald/AP

Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said the rescue efforts in Surfside will continue through the evening as 159 remain unaccounted for following the condo collapse.

"We're going to have more resources to pay for this expensive search and rescue and to give us access to more teams for the rescue later, for the clearance of the rubble and for the assistance for the families, as they put their lives back together," Cava said at a news briefing Friday evening.

Cava added: "We're here, we'll continue, and please stand by us. Stand by us, as we stand by the families."

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