The latest on the partial building collapse near Miami

By Melissa Mahtani, Melissa Macaya, Mike Hayes, Veronica Rocha and Fernando Alfonso III, CNN

Updated 10:03 PM ET, Wed June 30, 2021
32 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
6:55 p.m. ET, June 30, 2021

Death toll rises to 18 in Surfside condo collapse

The number of deaths following the condo collapse in Surfside, Florida, has grown to 18, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said this evening during a news conference.

"I'm pained to tell you we found two additional bodies in the rubble, which brings our total count to 18 — 18 fatalities. It is also with great sorrow, real pain, that I have to share with you that two of these were children. Aged 4 and 10. Any loss of life, especially given the unexpected, unprecedented nature of this event is a tragedy, but the loss of our children is too great to bear," she said.

Levine Cava added: "Our community, our nation and the world, we're all mourning with these families who have lost loved ones and we grieve with them and we lift them up as a community and we're so grateful for the support from all of you everywhere as we continue to big through the rubble."


6:11 p.m. ET, June 30, 2021

Body of collapse victim was found with rosaries

From CNN’s Rosa Flores and John Couwels

The latest collapse victim identified, 92-year-old Hilda Noriega, was found with rosaries on her body, according to her priest, Father Juan Sosa from St. Joseph Catholic Church.

“Maybe she was saying a rosary when this happened,” Sosa said. “She’s with God.”

Sosa says Noriega was a “feisty” woman who was very independent. She walked from Champlain Towers South to church for 12:30 p.m. mass services.

Sosa said that Noriega’s final wish was to be laid to rest with her late husband.

“We are going to miss her,” Sosa said.


4:31 p.m. ET, June 30, 2021

Town sent condo association notice of minor violations weeks before collapse, documents show

From CNN's Curt Devine

Less than a month before the collapse of Champlain Towers South, the town of Surfside’s compliance division sent a notice to the condo’s association that listed a series of minor violations that included untrimmed hedges, a missing exit light and a malfunctioning gate, according to new documents released by the town of Surfside on Wednesday.

The May 26 notice called on the building to “comply with all aforementioned violations,” but did not mention any of the issues described in an engineer’s field survey in 2018. That report outlined “major structural damage” to a slab below the pool deck and abundant cracking in columns in the parking garage, among other issues. 

A member of the condo’s board in 2018 shared that report with the town’s building official at the time, Ross Prieto, who assured residents at condo association meeting that same year the building was in “good shape,” documents show.  

In May, the town sent out a series of other compliance notices to owners of individual units in the condo that described violations of lighting regulations meant to protect sea turtle hatchlings.  

A spokesperson for Surfside did not immediately respond to a request for comment on why minor violations but not structural concerns were addressed in the May notices. Officials have emphasized that the cause of the collapse remains under investigation.  

notice sent by the town to the condo association in 2018 did describe “an excess of accumulated water on the pavement in the garage, possibly due to a leaky sprinkler” and noted holes in the 12th-floor stairwell wall. 


3:21 p.m. ET, June 30, 2021

Miami Heat player visits Surfside following condo collapse

From CNN’s Camille Furst

Udonis Haslem, from the Miami Heat basketball team, and Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava arrive to pay their respects at a memorial to those missing from the partially collapsed Champlain Towers South condo building on June 30 Surfside, Florida.
Udonis Haslem, from the Miami Heat basketball team, and Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava arrive to pay their respects at a memorial to those missing from the partially collapsed Champlain Towers South condo building on June 30 Surfside, Florida. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Miami Heat's Udonis Haslem visited Surfside, Florida, where a condo partially collapsed on Thursday, to offer support to those involved in rescue efforts and to families waiting for news. 

"I feel all the pain. I feel everything that goes through this community," Haslem said. "This city means way more to me than a game of basketball, and it always will be. This will always be my home and I'm never leaving. And I wish it was under different circumstances that I'm speaking right now, but all we can do is come together."

Haslem encouraged people to donate to Support Surfside, which is accepting donations to help those impacted by the collapse. He said he plans to donate as well.

Haslem added: "I'm going to do whatever I can do to be a part of the solution. To the families involved, my heart goes out. I pray for the people that are possibly still involved in it, and I pray for the families who are just waiting to hear something."

4:49 p.m. ET, June 30, 2021

Attorney for residents pledges accountability for "absolute hell" caused by collapse

From CNN's Josiah Ryann

Adam Moskowitz, an attorney for residents suing Champlain Towers South Condo Board, pledged accountability for anyone responsible for the "absolute hell" caused by the building collapse.

"We're going to get to the bottom of who is responsible," Moskowitz told CNN's Alisyn Camerota. "It could have been a parade of horribles. It could have been the antenna, the roofing company, it could have been the pool, it could have been a lot."

"We're going to freeze the evidence and make sure whoever caused this horrible hell is going to be responsible for it," he added. "Buildings don't fall."

Moskowitz said it was crucial to swiftly pursue a class action suit, even while survivors, former residents and friends and family grieve to ensure justice. 

"We filed a class action lawsuit because it needs to start now," he said. "These people need to grieve, but we need to start preserving the evidence....We need to make sure the insurance money is frozen and nobody take it, because this is just horrible."

"The conduct is so atrocious, I've never seen this," he added.

Watch more:

3:10 p.m. ET, June 30, 2021

A survivor's voicemail details the moments the condo collapsed

From CNN's Alyssa Kraus

CNN has obtained a voicemail from Raysa Rodriguez, a survivor of the Champlain Towers South collapse, that she left for her brother after she was awoken by the sounds of the building starting to come down around her.

The voicemail contains sound of the building collapsing; screams and alarms can also be heard, according to the resident's attorney.

"I heard voices. I gotta check on these guys," Rodriguez said. "Oh, my god! What the hell? Oh, my god! ... The whole entire building is gone."

Rodriguez is a plaintiff in the first class-action lawsuit against the Champlain Towers South condominium association. Rodriguez has accused the group of recklessness and negligent conduct.

Listen to the whole voicemail here:

2:13 p.m. ET, June 30, 2021

White House previews Biden's trip to Surfside on Thursday

From CNN's DJ Judd

White House press secretary Jen Psaki speaks during a press briefing at the White House in Washington, DC, on June 30.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki speaks during a press briefing at the White House in Washington, DC, on June 30. CNN

White House press secretary Jen Psaki previewed President Biden’s trip to Surfside, Florida, tomorrow, telling reporters in the briefing room that the President and first lady “will be thanking heroic first responders, search and rescue teams, and everyone has been working tirelessly around the clock.” 

“They will also meet with families who have been forced to endure this terrible tragedy,” Psaki said, adding that the White House is “still finalizing” logistics of the day.

When asked if Biden plans to visit the site of the partial building collapse that left 16 dead and many unaccounted for, Psaki told reporters:

“We're still working out the final components of the trip tomorrow,” she said. "[E]very component of this is going to be coordinated with officials on the ground, there is still an ongoing search and rescue effort on the ground, and we want to ensure we're not doing anything to pull away from those resources.”


1:37 p.m. ET, June 30, 2021

Florida fire marshal will ask Biden for PTSD support for Surfside response officials

From CNN’s Gregory Lemos

Florida Fire Marshal and Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis said he plans to ask President Biden to provide “the nation’s best mental health experts” to assist in the treatment of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) among response officials currently working the pile at the Champlain Towers South collapse site. 

“We’re planning on appealing to the President for the best PTSD support possible for the men and women who are working in conditions that resemble more of a warzone than a normal search and rescue mission,” Patronis said in a statement Wednesday. 

“We’ve already deployed mental health experts to engage these heroes, but having access to the nation’s best mental health experts and guidance would go a long way in helping these officials cope with some of the horrible things they are having to see and deal with," the statement continued.

Patronis has previously and frequently expressed his concern about first responders’ mental health as they comb through the rubble. 

Patronis noted Urban Search and Rescue teams are burning through their equipment as they work 12-hour shifts “in some of the worst conditions imaginable.” 

“The rebar, the concrete and other debris, combined with the long hours these men and women are working, is tough on the equipment. These teams respond to hurricanes across the nation, so we’re working with FEMA and our Division of Emergency Management to ensure these supplies are being replenished,” Patronis said in the statement. “We want backup for the backups. Especially as we’ve got two disturbances in the Atlantic that we’re all monitoring.”  

12:49 p.m. ET, June 30, 2021

Storms still forecast for Surfside this week

From CNN's Brandon Miller

A continuation of the wet and stormy weather is in store for the Surfside building collapse site this week.

Today and Thursday look to have the most coverage through the day with showers and thunderstorms. Friday will bring longer periods of dry/clear skies and lower rain chances through the holiday weekend. 

Summer in South Florida typically brings a chance of storms every day, especially in the afternoon heat, but the current pattern is leading to an even greater coverage of rainfall and higher rain chances.

Why this matters: These storms can bring a variety of hazards including a significant amount of lightning, strong winds and torrential downfalls. These hazards can complicate search efforts and that will likely continue over the next several days with the active weather pattern.

Looking ahead to next week, all eyes are on the tropics, as a couple of tropical waves being monitored by the National Hurricane Center (NHC) for potential development could impact the weather in South Florida. The NHC currently pegs the odds of a tropical storm forming in the Atlantic over the next five days at 80%, and forecast models are hinting that the storm could pass near or over southern Florida by Tuesday.