Live Updates

At least 156 missing after partial building collapse near Miami

'It's not enough!': Frustrated mom lashes out at Florida officials
03:34

What we know so far

  • At least 156 people remain missing after a residential building partially collapsed in Surfside, Florida, early Thursday. Search and rescue teams are racing to find survivors.
  • At least five people are confirmed dead, officials said.
  • Emergency officials are also asking people to call 305-614-1819 if they have relatives who are unaccounted for.
  • The cause of the collapse is still unknown.

Our live coverage has ended for the day.

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Miami-Dade Police identify 3 more victims

Cheri Fine and Mark (no last name provided) visit a makeshift memorial at the site of a collapsed building in Surfside, Florida, north of Miami Beach, on June 26.

Three more victims of the building collapse in Surfside have been identified, the Miami-Dade Police Department said in a news release Saturday night.

They were identified as Antonio Lozano, 83; Gladys Lozano, 79; and Manuel LaFont, 54.

Antonio and Gladys Lozano lived in apartment 903, with Antonio Lozano recovered Thursday and his wife recovered Friday, according to the news release.

LaFont lived in apartment 804 and was recovered Friday, the release said.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said at a Saturday evening news conference that five deaths had been confirmed.

Authorities previously identified Stacie Fang, 54, as one of the victims. The fifth victim has not been identified.

“Rescue workers have been working around the clock as they continue their search and rescue efforts,” the news release said. “This unexpected tragedy has affected many families, loved ones, and our entire community. The Miami-Dade Police Department is committed to honoring and supporting all those affected during this very difficult and emotional process.”

Evacuation for other Champlain towers is voluntary after buildings were inspected by the city, Surfside mayor says

Evacuations for residents in Champlain Towers North and East are voluntary following the collapse of Champlain Towers South, Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said at a Saturday night news conference.

The mayor said a Surfside building official did a cursory review of the structure at Champlain Towers North and East and “didn’t find anything that was out of order.”

“So that’s reassuring, but that is not a deep dive,” he added. “We are going to do a very deep dive into why this building fell down. And I imagine that is going to end up being a very sort of comprehensive project.”

He said he was made aware Saturday of the 2018 report detailing structural issues.

After speaking with other officials, the decision was made to give residents the information so they can make the decision on whether to relocate. They are working with FEMA on relocation options.

Burkett said he spoke with the White House, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Sens. Rick Scott and Marco Rubio, as well as Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz and has received tremendous support from everyone.

Aggressive search-and-rescue operations continue

Members of the South Florida Urban Search and Rescue team work in the rubble of the partially collapsed 12-story condo building.

Crews are continuing to utilize their “aggressive search-and-rescue strategy” after human remains were found Saturday, Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Chief Alan Cominsky said at a Saturday night news conference.

Cominsky said fire crews were able to contain the fire that had caused smoke issues during rescue efforts around 10:30 a.m.

They are continuing to search the entire debris field, separated into multiple sections, he said.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said rescuers are using a grid approach to search the pile and they continue to utilize sonar, cameras and K-9 resources.

They have minimized the use of heavy equipment today, she said.

US Sen. Marco Rubio said the State Department and other federal resources are on site providing assistance.

5 people are now confirmed dead and 156 are still missing, mayor says

Five people are now confirmed dead from the building collapse in Surfside after search teams found another body Saturday, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said at an evening news briefing.

Three of the five victims have been identified, Levine Cava said. Their names are not being released out of respect for the families, she said.

Officials are depending on DNA testing to make identifications, according to Levine Cava.

“The process of identifying these victims is very difficult,” she said. “We’re going to be relying on DNA testing, and that is why we’ve already been gathering DNA samples from the family members. So they have all participated and provided DNA to assist us in the investigation.”

This will allow for rapid DNA testing, which helped in identifying the three bodies found in the rubble, according to the mayor.

“As well, our search has revealed some human remains,” she added.

There are now 130 people accounted for and 156 unaccounted for, according to Levine Cava.

“Our top priority continues to be search and rescue and saving any lives that we can,” she said.

Structural engineering company that inspected building in 2018 says it 'detailed significant cracks and breaks in the concrete' and gave estimate for 'extensive and necessary repairs'

Morabito Consultants, a structural engineering firm, said in a statement issued Saturday afternoon it completed a report in 2018 that “detailed significant cracks and breaks in the concrete” at Champlain Towers South and provided an estimate of costs to “make the extensive and necessary repairs.”

CNN previously reported that the report noted major structural damage. 

Champlain Towers South Condominium Association hired the firm again in June 2020 to prepare a building repair plan for the 40-year recertification, according to the statement.

Morabito Consultants provides only engineering consulting services, not repair or restoration contracting, the statement said.

“We are deeply troubled by this building collapse and are working closely with the investigating authorities to understand why the structure failed. As we do so, we also continue to pray for all those impacted by this tragic event,” the firm said in the statement.

Morabito Consultants has nearly four decades of experience providing services for building structures, including high-rises, residential and commercial buildings, as well as educational and health care facilities, according to the statement.

A father who was in the hotel next to the collapsed condo says he thought they were in a tornado, his kids are still shaken

Daniel Groves was on vacation with his family in Surfside, staying on the second floor of a hotel next to the Champlain Towers when the collapse happened.

The family was “dead asleep” when the collapse occurred around 1:20 a.m., he said.

“It literally sounded like a bomb going off, like it was the loudest thing I’ve ever heard in my life,” Groves told CNN. “The whole building shook. I mean, I felt like we were in the worst earthquake in my life.”

“It shook very violently,” he added.

Groves said he opened the curtains of his hotel room and couldn’t see past more than four to five feet, but noticed a big crack in the glass where debris had hit. He said he thought they were in a tornado and began yelling at his wife to get up just as alarms began to sound in the building.

He and his wife grabbed their children, ages 3 and 7, leaving all their belongings behind and ran a few blocks away. Groves then took a video of the immediate aftermath of the collapse, still unsure of what had happened. The video shows the pile of rubble and debris littering the area. 

“The scariest thing. I thought a tornado literally just hit and they just said no, the building is gone,” he is heard saying in the video.

He and his family have since gone to Disney to try to “get a little joy” following the tragedy.

“It’s not real good. My kids are really shook,” Groves said. “Toilet flushes, my kids are screaming. … A bell on the elevator dings, my kids hold their ears. I don’t know what the long-term effects are going to be.”

Escambia County is deploying THOR, a mobile command center, to help in rescue efforts

An emergency mobile command center from Florida’s Escambia County is being deployed to aid in the recovery and rescue efforts of the Champlain Towers South condo collapse.

The command center, known as THOR, is scheduled to leave Sunday morning at the request of the state, the county’s emergency management team said in a news release Saturday afternoon. An emergency management employee will also be deployed with THOR for 10 days.

The mobile command post offers 1,000 square feet of working space, according to the news release. It has a 44-kilowatt generator with 72 hours of fuel on board as well as dual air conditioning units. 

“The situation in which we have to use this resource is very unfortunate,” Eric Gilmore, Escambia County’s interim public safety director, said in a statement. “We are proud to assist our partners in any way we can.”

Escambia County is in northwest Florida, on the border with Alabama.

The daughter of a woman missing in the collapse says her mother had concerns about work being done on other buildings

Magaly “Maggie” Ramsey told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer her mother Magaly Delgado, who is among the missing in the Champlain Towers South condo collapse, had raised concerns about work being done on other buildings having possible impacts on her building.

Ramsey said her mother didn’t really complain about her building but had raised concerns about ongoing assessments as well as tremors from the construction of a new building nearby.

“I will say that when the other building beside it, which is relatively new, was being built she did complain of a lot of tremors and things that were being done to the other building that she sometimes was concerned what may be happening to her building that might be putting it at risk as a result,” Ramsey explained.

Delgado came from Cuba and made her way to “live her best life” by the water in the Champlain Towers, where she had lived on the ninth floor for more than 10 years, according to Ramsey.

“She loved the building, she loved the community,” she said.

The last time Ramsey spoke to her mother was about a surgery Ramsey had recently had. She missed her call Wednesday night and thought she would just give her a call back in the morning, but she never got the opportunity, she told CNN.

Ramsey said she learned of the collapse on the news.

“Other than this horrible thing going on right now, the worst thing is not to know,” she said. “Knowing, whatever the outcome may be, you hope that they didn’t suffer if something did occur. But knowing is a little bit healing in itself.”

Tributes continue near the condo building site as loved ones wait for news

As scores of family members wait to hear about their missing loved ones following the partial building collapse in Surfside, supporters continue to gather around the site to help any way they can.

Here’s a look at those efforts:

Here's how you can help Surfside building collapse victims

Photos of missing residents are posted at a makeshift memorial on June 26.

Rescue workers are digging through rubble and debris looking for signs of life after Thursday morning’s building collapse in the town of Surfside, just north of Miami, Florida.

Around 1:30 a.m., an estimated 55 condominiums fell to the ground, most of them with residents asleep inside.

As families wait in agony for updates on missing loved ones, there are ways you can ensure they don’t face this situation alone. Organizations are on the ground to help.

Here is how you can support them, even from miles away. To donate to some of the organizations featured, click here:

  • The American Red Cross is helping displaced residents find safe places. The group is also offering emotional and spiritual support to the survivors. To donate click here.
  • ATJC Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center is collecting donations for individuals and families impacted by the collapse. The organization is asking for urgent items including sheets, pillows, phone chargers, and snack food.
  • Direct Relief has teamed up with the NBA’s Miami Heat to collect donations helping provide healthcare for survivors and equipment for first responders.
  • Greater Miami Jewish Federation is accepting donations to help provide spiritual support and crisis counseling.
  • Miami-Dade Fire Rescue is responding to the crisis. To report missing loved ones, call 305-614-1819. You can also file an online missing persons report. Residents who live within the partially collapsed tower are asked to fill out this wellness check form. For free bilingual emotional support, call 833-848-1762.
  • World Central Kitchen is serving hot meals to the Surfside community to make sure displaced residents and rescue crews are fed as they face the unexpected.

CNN’s Impact Your World Team will continue to provide ways to support as opportunities become available.

Daughter of missing parents calls the tragedy at Surfside "horrific and bizarre"

Betty and Gil Guerra

Gil Guerra and his wife Betty Guerra lived on the ninth floor of the Surfside, Florida, condominium building that partially collapsed on Thursday, his daughter told CNN.

Michelle Guerra said that they haven’t gotten any word on her dad and stepmom since the collapse.

“We’re doing our best to stay hopeful. That’s what they would want,” she said over Facebook Messenger on Saturday. “This is all so horrific and bizarre. They are both such caring, hardworking people. They only got married late 2017 and have been living it up like two teenagers in love, traveling the world and eating all they can together. They lived a full time together,” she said.

Guerra said they were in the process of moving out of their home and had just gotten furniture at their new apartment on Monday.

The couple were renting and she said the owner was in the process of selling the unit.

Guerra said she last spoke to her dad on Father’s Day and saw him in person on May 16 at her nephew’s first birthday party. 

Son of missing woman: "I just want my mom back"

Judy Spiegel.

Josh Spiegel, whose mother Judy Spiegel is missing, said his family is “just trying to keep it together” as they wait for rescue updates from the Surfside building collapse.

“As a doctor, I’ve taken care of a lot of burn patients and trauma patients, and this is not good. And I’m scared to death. I just want my mom back. And we’re praying as much as possible. We just want more people to help. So, if there’s anyone else that can help, that’s all that we want. We love my mom. She’s the most amazing person in the world. We would literally do anything because we know that she would do anything for us,” Josh Spiegel told CNN.

Rachel Spiegel, daughter of Judy Spiegel, said that she is “very concerned.”

She described her mother as “the best person in the world. She’s so caring and loving. She loves my kids.”

Rachel Spiegel said that one of her daughters offered to help find her grandma, because “she’s really good at playing hide and seek, so she’s probably hiding in her house. Can I go there with you? I know where she hides.”

Judy Spiegel’s husband was not in the building at the time of the collapse.

“My heart breaks for my dad, but at the same time, I’m just so thankful that he wasn’t there, too. You know, obviously, the thought of losing my mom, who is my rock and my best friend and everything is the most awful thing, but I don’t really know if I would be standing if I lost two,” Rachel Spiegel said.

“I’ve never seen so much pain in all my family’s eyes, and my heart is shattered,” Josh Spiegel said.

The family is asking for as much help as possible as they continue to await to hear news about Judy Spiegel.

Miami-Dade mayor says the fire at rescue site is hampering search efforts

Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava.

Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said that rescue crews are continuing to face “incredible difficulties” due to an ongoing fire under the rubble.

“It’s a very deep fire. It’s extremely difficult to locate the source of the fire. So, they’ve been working around the clock, these fire rescue teams, these brave men and women, under the rubble to fix this problem so they can get on, but it is hampering our search efforts,” Cava said during a news conference.

Cava detailed that the smoke from the fire “spread laterally throughout the pile” making it difficult to isolate the source and stop it.

The mayor also noted that rescue teams have created a trench to try and isolate the fire and continue to search for victims.

“We’re using everything possible to address this fire. We are using infrared technology. We’re using foam. We’re using water. All the tactics that we can to contain the fire and minimize the smoke spread,” Cava said.

Cava added: “Obviously, the smoke itself is the biggest barrier right now to proceeding in those areas. So, we created a trench using heavy equipment to try to isolate the fire and continue searching for victims in the part of the pile that we can access. No further victims have been found.”

No other victims have been found following the condo collapse, Miami-Dade mayor says

Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava.

Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said no other victims have been found in the rubble following the partial building collapse in Surfside, she said this morning during a news conference.

“No further victims have been found, as you’ve heard. The numbers are the same as they were yesterday; 127 have been accounted for,” Cava said. “One hundred and fifty-nine unaccounted for. Four confirmed dead.”

Cava added: “To the community and the world, please be patient. Please stand with us. Please continue your prayers. We are not going to stop. We need your support.”

Roof repair permit issued for Champlain Towers day before partial collapse

The town of Surfside issued a permit for roof repairs on the Champlain Towers South condo building the day before the structure collapsed, documents released Friday night show.

On June 23, the town issued a permit to “install roof safety anchors and provide stucco repairs” to a South Florida concrete company. The work included removing “the existing roof down to concrete deck” and replacing it, the permit said. 

The building fell the next day, in the early morning hours of June 24.

The company that was set to perform the work, Concrete Protection and Restoration LLC, did not immediately respond to a request for comment Saturday. 

The town issued two other permits for work at the building last month, for electrical repair and “roof repair.” It’s unclear whether work had begun on those permits before the collapse. Both contractors declined to comment to CNN. 

Another document produced as part of the 2018 structural engineer’s report also noted that small portions of the building were “showing distress.” The report, conducted by engineer Frank Morabito for the building’s condo association, noted that about “2% of exterior columns have experienced concrete spalling” and about “5% of the balcony structural floor slabs showed hairline cracking at underside of the slab,” among other examples of cracking.   

It’s unclear whether these issues contributed to the collapse.

The report says the “general alignment” of the structure, as well as the concrete framing, roof membrane, and several other parts of the building, were in good condition. 

Surfside officials noted in the document that the report “was not formally submitted” to town officials by the condo association, but said Morabito provided it to the town after the building collapse.  

SOON: Florida governor expected to speak at Surfside news conference

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is expected to speak at this news conference scheduled for 10:30 a.m. ET.

Surfside mayor on 2018 structural report: Unclear what steps were taken to "address those cracks"

Members of the South Florida Urban Search and Rescue team look for possible survivors in the partially collapsed 12-story Champlain Towers South condo building on June 25 in Surfside, Florida.

Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett told CNN that he has not seen the 2018 structural field survey report, which raised concerns about structural damage to the Champlain Towers’ South, but said it’s “unclear right now exactly what was going on in that building.” 

“I can’t speak to that [report] because I haven’t seen that; I’m going to get a copy of that this morning and take a look at it so I can give out accurate information regarding that,” Burkett told CNN. “I understand from our building official, that it was in the form of the 2018 email that came from an engineer regarding those cracks.”

Burkett said it’s still “unclear what steps the building was taking to address those cracks” mentioned in the report. 

According to the mayor, “the 40-year report had not been submitted yet.” 

“We had indications that it was on the way because it needed to be submitted within this year,” said Burkett. 

The report indicated that the engineer found no sign of immediate danger, CNN reported. 

Watch the interview here:

Surfside mayor recommends residents of Champlain North Tower to evacuate

Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett told CNN on Saturday that he has recommended residents of Champlain Towers’ North Tower to evacuate out of “an abundance of caution.” 

The Champlain North tower is located a block away from the South Tower, which collapsed Thursday. 

“I’ve recommended that that building be evacuated pending a thorough structural investigation,” Burkett said. 

“Because I don’t think people need to live with the possibility, or the thought that their” building may collapse, Burkett added. 

“It had the same developer, it probably had the same materials, they probably had the same plans, and people are asking me is the building safe, and I can’t tell them it is safe,” Burkett said.

President Biden set to receive updates on collapsed building while at Camp David

President Biden is set to receive updates from his homeland security team this weekend on the collapsed condo building near Miami Beach, according to White House officials.

Biden is spending Saturday and Sunday with family at Camp David, but officials say he’ll receive briefings each day over the phone and from a traveling national security adviser, Yohannes Abraham. 

Biden has been following developments closely and has told aides to provide whatever assistance the state needs, including mortuary facilities if bodies begin emerging from the rubble.

“There’s nothing worse than having to wait and wonder what happened,” Biden said Friday. “It’s a tough, tough time. There’s so many people waiting. ‘Are they alive? Will they be – what will happen?’ And so, our heart goes out to them.”

White House officials believe a potential trip to Florida for Biden to visit families and the site is still a way off, as the same resources being used in the recovery efforts (fire and police departments) would be needed for a presidential visit.

Earlier: Biden spoke Friday with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis after signing a federal emergency declaration for Miami-Dade County, which freed up money and resources to assist in recovery efforts. A White House official said Biden signed the order very soon after receiving it late Thursday.

The phone call was professional and focused on providing Florida the help it needs, the official said.

The emergency declaration authorizes FEMA to coordinate relief efforts and provide equipment to assist with debris removal. The agency has deployed an Incident Management Assistance Team to Florida and two FEMA search and rescue teams are on site. They have also provided building science experts, according to the White House.

A team of White House officials, led by homeland security adviser Liz Sherwood Randall, has been keeping tabs on the incident from Washington.

Miami-Dade mayor on the 2018 report: "We are going to get to the bottom of what happened"

When asked about the reporting that in 2018 there was an inspection done of the Surfside building that collapsed showing there were cracks in the structure that required fixing, Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said “we are going to get to the bottom of what happened at this particular building.”

“Clearly, our buildings need to be structurally sound. We need to have regular reviews, and to the extent that we need to change laws, we will change laws, and we will make sure these things do not happen in the future,” Cava told CNN. “For now, we’re focused on the families waiting for their loved ones and the search for survivors.”

Cava said search and rescue teams continue “working feverishly,” and are “leaving no stone unturned.”  

“They are telling us that they are pushing forward because they do believe they could still find people in the rubble, alive. So we are on the search phase and that is our sole focus,” Cava added.

Pictures of missing people and flowers hang on a fence near the partially collapsed residential building in Surfside, Florida, Friday, June 25.

Engineer raised concerns about structural damage at Surfside condominium in 2018 report

These photos published in the 2018 report shows concrete spalling on a balcony at Champlain Towers.

A structural field survey report completed nearly three years before the collapse of the Champlain Towers South condominium complex in Surfside raised concerns about structural damage to the concrete slab below the pool deck and “cracking and spalling” located in the parking garage.

The report from October 2018 was included in a series of public records documents that were published overnight on the Surfside, Florida, town website. The New York Times was the first media outlet to publish a story about the field survey report.

Page seven of the report, the goal of which was to “understand and document the extent of structural issues that require(d) repair and/or remediation in the immediate and near future,” detailed signs of “distress/fatigue” in the parking garage:

Abundant cracking and spalling of various degrees was observed in the concrete columns, beams and walls. Several sizeable spalls were noted in both the topside of the entrance drive ramp and underside of the pool/ entrance drive/ planter slabs, which included instances with exposed, deteriorating rebar. Though some of this damage is minor, most of the concrete deterioration needs to be repaired in a timely fashion.” 

Spalling is a term used to describe areas of concrete that have cracked or crumbled.

The 2018 report also noted that “many of the previous garage concrete repairs” were “failing.”

The report also said the waterproofing below the pool deck was failing and causing “major structural damage.”

“…the waterproofing below the pool deck and Entrance Drive as well as all of the planter waterproofing is beyond its useful life and therefore must all be completely removed and replaced. The failed waterproofing is causing major structural damage to the concrete structural slab below these areas. Failure to replace the waterproofing in the near future will cause the extent of the concrete deterioration to expand exponentially,” the report read. 

It further noted that “the replacement of the existing deck waterproofing will be extremely expensive…be disruptive and create a major disturbance to the occupants of this condominium building.”

The report, which didn’t give any indication that the structure was at risk of collapse, was completed by Frank Morabito with Morabito Consultants. CNN reached out to Morabito Consultants on Friday which offered no comment.

An attorney for the building’s condominium association, Kenneth Direktor, warned against early speculation. The building, he told CNN on Friday, had been subject to a series of inspections “over the last several months” as part of its milestone 40-year safety certification process. 

“Nothing like this was foreseeable,” Direktor said. “At least it wasn’t seen by the engineers who were looking at the building from a structural perspective.”

CNN reached out to Direktor on Saturday for comment.

Intense rescue efforts continued through the night in Florida

Since early Thursday morning first responders have been working at the scene at Champlain Towers South, a few miles north of Miami Beach.

Rescue efforts continued all night into Saturday morning.

A side of the building has fallen, leaving huge piles of rubble behind.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has said local and state officials are hoping for additional rescues but “we are bracing for some bad news just given the destruction that we’re seeing.”

The building was undergoing roof work, but it’s unknown whether this was a factor in the collapse, Surfside Mayor Charles W. Burkett said.

“This is a horrific catastrophe. In the United States, buildings just don’t fall down,” Burkett said.

Read more to see the ongoing aftermath in pictures:

Excavators dig through the remains from the Champlain Towers South building on July 9.

In pictures: Deadly condo collapse near Miami

Miami-Dade police chief: "We have not lost hope"

Miami-Dade Police Department Director, Alfredo Ramirez III paid tribute to those involved in search and rescue efforts in Florida as work continued through the night.

“The collaboration I have witnessed by our local, state and federal partners is admirable and humbling,” he said.

“We must remain focused in our efforts to save lives. I ask you to join me in prayer. We have not lost hope!”

Search and rescue crews include members from Mexico and Israel

There are four task force teams working on search and rescue efforts at the disaster site, Miami-Dade Fire Chief Alan Comisky said in a press conference Friday.

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

Task force members from Mexico and Israel, who arrived at the site Friday, are also taking part in search and rescue efforts. 

While the collapse happened on US soil, the impact of the building collapse stretches far beyond US borders. 

Dozens of citizens from countries across Latin America are missing, including those from Venezuela, Argentina, Colombia, Uruguay, Chile, and Paraguay.

Firefighters spray water at the debris of the partially collapsed building in Surfside, north of Miami Beach, on June 25.

Families left searching for loved ones as rescue efforts continue

People watch recovery operations near the site of an oceanfront condo building that partially collapsed in Surfside, Florida, Friday, June 25.

At least 159 people remain missing after the building’s partial collapse, leaving many family members frantic for information.

Sarina Patel told CNN that her uncle, his pregnant wife and their one-year-old daughter were all missing.

“We had tried calling them countless times, and there’s just been no answers,” she said.
“We have a large extended family. They always stay in touch with someone everyday. They haven’t contacted anybody. We’ve called multiple hospitals within that area and there’s no sight of them anywhere.”

Patel said the family were still hopeful “and praying for a miracle.”

“We haven’t received much updates yet,” she said, adding that her uncle’s mother had provided a DNA sample in case authorities require it for identification.

“The last time I spoke to [the missing family] was on Sunday,” Patel said.

“I had actually called them to tell them I had just booked a flight to come visit, because they’ve been asking me to come see their home. And to meet their daughter, I haven’t met her due to the pandemic.”

Rescue efforts continue at the site.

Florida authorities advise residents to avoid smoke from collapse site

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue has advised people living near the Surfside Building to stay indoors due to the smoke coming from the debris. 

“If you live near the area of the #SurfsideBuildingCollapse, you may be experiencing smoky conditions, which can affect those with respiratory conditions,” Miami-Dade Fire Rescue said in a tweet.

“Please stay indoors, keep your windows and doors closed, and run your a/c by recirculating the air inside your home.”

It could take months to know the cause of the building collapse

Two days after the catastrophic partial collapse of a residential building in South Florida, officials remained focused on the search for the dozens of people believed to be under the mountain of rubble as an expert suggested it may be months before the cause of the disaster is known.

While anxious family members awaited some news – and the search continued through the night – officials urged for a powerful sentiment: Hope.

“They are the ones on the ground. They are in the tunnels; they’re in the water; they’re on top of the rubble pile. They’re helping to sift through using the cameras, the dogs, the sonar, and they say they have hope.”

An emotional Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Chief Andy Alvarez echoed the sentiment in an interview with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. “There’s always hope,” he said. “We’re doing everything we can to bring your family member out alive.”

Read more:

Firefighters battle a blaze as rescue workers search debris at the 12-story oceanfront condo, Champlain Towers South,  Friday, June 25, 2021 in Surfside, Fla. The apartment building partially collapsed on Thursday, June 24. (Al Diaz/Miami Herald via AP)

It could take months to know the cause of the South Florida building collapse. For now, officials are focused on finding dozens who are unaccounted for

Survivor: 'I thought the building was struck by lightning'

Two survivors who escaped the building told CNN that the disaster was a surreal and terrifying experience.

Albert and Janette Aguero were on vacation with their two children, aged 22 and 14, when they were woken up by a “loud, thunderous sound” as the condo collapsed.

The family were staying on the building’s 11th floor.

“I thought the building was struck by lightning,” Albert said.

“Then [Janette] realizes that the chandeliers and the lights in the apartment are all swinging back and forth, so we know it’s something more than just a storm.”

He added: “We’ve lived through Hurricane Sandy. It wasn’t that.”

Janette said that the family soon realized they needed to leave the building but that “the elevator was gone.” Parts of the wall by the stairwell had also been destroyed, leaving the stairs open to the elements.

Janette added that it was “a mad dash to get down” the stairs and out of the building.

“It was pitch dark,” Albert said. “I’m thinking…we’re racing against the clock because the rest of the building is going to come down.”

“It was surreal, it was scary, it was terrifying,” his wife said.

The family were unhurt apart from a few minor scratches.

“I couldn’t make sense of any of it. I felt like…why?,” Janette Aguero told CNN. “Why did we get out? And how did we get out?”

What is a pancake collapse and why it's dangerous

Members of the South Florida Urban Search and Rescue team look for possible survivors in the partially collapsed 12-story Champlain Towers South condo building on June 25, in Surfside, Florida.

It’s still not fully clear what caused an oceanfront condo tower in Surfside, Florida, to partially collapse, sending some units in the 12-story building plummeting to the ground.

Experts are still looking to determine the exact contributing factors that led to the catastrophe. But from what investigators know, the building appears to have fallen in a “pancake collapse,” Miami-Dade Fire Rescue District Chief Jason Richard told CNN, though evidence of other types of collapses are present, too. 

Pancake collapses are dangerous and severe, and their damage can complicate search-and-rescue efforts. Here’s how they happen.

About pancake collapses: Pancake collapses are so named for the way collapsing floors land and stack as they fall, said Gregg Favre, executive director of the St. Louis Regional Response Systems, a former commanding officer with the St. Louis Fire Department and experienced special rescue team member.

“Pancake collapses tend to ‘stack’ floors on themselves, bringing all their weight down nearly square on the floor below,” Favre told CNN. “This continues down, accumulating more weight and stress as the structure falls.”

A pancake collapse is a “progressive failure” that often begins at the bottom: A load-bearing element is damaged, usually in a building’s lower floors or foundation, which triggers the top floors to collapse vertically into the floors below, said Necati Catbas, a professor in the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Construction Engineering at the University of Central Florida. “Once there is ‘no’ support at the bottom floors or foundation, the top floors start pounding on the from top to bottom in progressive manner,” Catbas said in an email to CNN.

Why they’re dangerous: A pancake collapse is more dangerous than other collapses, Favre said, because there are often few voids, or pockets of space and air, in the rubble.  “The sheer tonnage of materials … makes it very difficult for void spaces to exist,” Favre said.

Pancake collapses also complicate search-and-rescue missions, he said, because the structures that remain near the collapse site are unstable and could fall as rescuers move through the rubble. 

Voids can still be present, though, particularly when multiple kinds of collapses are present, as in the incident in Surfside, said urban search and rescue expert Scott Goldstein.

Goldstein told CNN there was evidence of four collapse types in the Surfside incident. Aside from a pancake collapse, that includes a V-shaped collapse, when the center of the floor collapses and creates voids on either side; a lean-to collapse, when a floor collapses on one side while the other side is still attached to a wall; and a cantilever collapse, when one wall supporting floors is damaged but the opposite wall is intact. Void spaces are more likely in V-shaped, lean-to and cantilever collapses.

Read more here.

How to help Surfside building collapse victims

Rescue workers are digging through rubble and debris looking for signs of life after Thursday morning’s building collapse in the town of Surfside, just north of Miami, Florida. Around 1:30 a.m., an estimated 55 condominiums fell to the ground, most of them with residents asleep inside.

As families wait in agony for updates on missing loved ones, there are ways you can ensure they don’t face this situation alone. Organizations are on the ground to help.

Here is how you can support them — even from miles away. To donate to some of the organizations featured click here.

The American Red Cross is helping displaced residents find safe places. The group is also offering emotional and spiritual support to the survivors. To donate click here.

World Central Kitchen is serving hot meals to the Surfside community to make sure displaced residents and rescue crews are fed as they face the unexpected.

ATJC Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center is collecting donations for individuals and families impacted by the collapse. The organization is asking for urgent items including sheets, pillows, phone chargers, and snack food.

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue is responding to the crisis. To report missing loved ones, call 305-614-1819. You can also file an online missing persons report. Residents who live within the partially collapsed tower are asked to fill out this wellness check form. For free bilingual emotional support, call 833-848-1762.

READ MORE

Pancake collapses: What they are and why they're dangerous
Rescuers battle fire, noise and shifting steel and concrete as they scramble to save lives
This is what we know about those missing in the Miami condo collapse
How to help Surfside building collapse victims
'Our heart goes out to them:' Biden speaks on Florida building collapse as rescue efforts enter second day

READ MORE

Pancake collapses: What they are and why they're dangerous
Rescuers battle fire, noise and shifting steel and concrete as they scramble to save lives
This is what we know about those missing in the Miami condo collapse
How to help Surfside building collapse victims
'Our heart goes out to them:' Biden speaks on Florida building collapse as rescue efforts enter second day