At least 99 people are feared missing after an upscale multi-storey apartment complex collapsed in the dead of night in Surfside, in Forida's Miami. Local authorities said the collapsed building is the 12-storey Champlain Towers South Condo on Collins Avenue in Surfside, just north of Miami Beach.
In Good Shape or Sinking?
The building, which crashed with a loud bang as hundreds of residents were sleeping, was about 40 years old and was apparently in good shape, though some reports said the structure was soon to undergo a critical fitness inspection.
Meanwhile, a report by the New York Post said the building was 'sinking for decades'. The paper cited a 2020 study conducted by Shimon Wdowinski, a professor at Florida International University, which found the building was in bad shape.
In a conflicting claim, the attorneys for the residents' association of the Champlain Towers South condo said the building had undergone thorough engineering inspections over the last several ahead of securing the 40-year certification.
"What that tells you is.... nothing like this was foreseeable, at least it wasn't seen by the engineers who were looking at the building from a structural perspective ... There was nothing to indicate something like this was going to happen," the attorneys told CNN.
Most Residents were in Bed
According to the witnesses the tragedy happened when most residents were still in bed. The tower crumpled with "a bang that just kept on going," they said, according to the Miami Herald. The crash happened little after 1:30 a.m.
Miami-Dade County's Emergency Operations Center said more than 700 missing-person reports were filed in the aftermath of the disaster.
Local officials said as many as 35 survivors have been pulled from the rubble. Some of the injured were treated at the scene and others with more grave injuries have been taken to hospitals.
Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said no official cause of the building collapse has been identified. He said structural engineers will investigate the collapse.
More Than 100 Rescued
As the latest reports come in the mayor said at least 99 people are still unaccounted for. He said more than hundred people have been accounted for as of now.
Florida Governor Rn DeSantis signed emergency order, under which federal help will be roped in.
Biden Offers Help
President Joe Biden said all federal resources will be available to help Florida manage the disaster. "We are ready to move federal resources immediately ... So, we are on top of it, we are ready to move from the federal resources immediately... If in fact we're asked for it. But we can't go in and do it, but FEMA is down there taking a look at what's needed," Biden said.
Reports said the relatives of the first lady of Paraguay have been reported missing after the building collapse. The Miami Herald said sister and brother-in-law of first lady of Paraguay, Silvana López Moreira, were staying in the condo. They also had their three children and a domestic worker staying with them.