By Tim Darnell, Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Troy Warren for CNT
At least one person was killed early Thursday morning after a high-rise condo partially collapsed near Miami Beach, Florida.
The collapse happened at Champlain Towers, Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said during a 9:15 a.m. media briefing. The tower is a 12-story building, and Cava said 55 units of the building’s northeast corridor 130 apartments collapsed.
The Miami-Dade Fire Rescue department said 35 residents were rescued, with 10 treated for injuries and two taken to local hospitals.
An unidentified county official told a local report that 51 people are unaccounted for.
Around 8 a.m., Frank Rollason, director of Miami-Dade Emergency Management, told local media emergency workers believe they have cleared all survivors from inside the tower’s northeast corridor.
“Everyone who is alive is out of the building,” he told the Miami Herald.
At least 10 people were also being treated for injuries, Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett told NBC News, while dozens more were displaced. The condo is located in Surfside, in Miami-Dade County.
“It looks like a bomb went off.” Burkett told NBC’s Today. “This is a catastrophic failure of that building.”
The entire back side of the building collapsed, according to Sgt. Marian Cruz of Surfside police.
Burkett told local media the building manager told him the building was substantially full.
“The building is literally pancaked,” Burkett said. “That is heartbreaking because it doesn’t mean to me that we are going to be as successful as we wanted to be in finding people alive.”
Ten people were treated at the scene and two were brought to the hospital, one of whom died, Burkett said. He also said 15 families walked out of the building on their own.
“I’ve lived here my whole life and I’ve never seen anything like this happen,” he said.
Santo Mejil, 50, told the Miami Herald his wife called him from the building, where she was working as an aide for an elderly woman.
“She said she heard a big explosion. It felt like an earthquake,” Mejil told the newspaper. He said she later called him and said rescuers were bringing her down.
Miami Dade Fire Rescue was conducting search and rescue operations, and said in a tweet that more than 80 units were “on scene with assistance from municipal fire departments.”
Burkett said roof work was being done on the building, but added that roofing work goes on in other buildings and he did not see how that could have caused the building to collapse.
Teams of fire fighters walked through the rubble, picking up survivors and carrying them from the wreckage.
The collapse left a number of units in the still-standing part of the building exposed. Television footage showed bunk beds, tables and chairs still left inside the damaged apartments. Air conditioner units were hanging from some parts of the building, where wires now dangled.
Police blocked nearby roads, and scores of fire and rescue vehicles, ambulances and police cars swarmed the area.
The debris from the collapse coated cars up to two blocks away with a light layer of dust.
Photos and video from the scene show the collapse affected half the tower. Piles of rubble and debris surrounded the area just outside the building. The department has yet to say what may have caused the collapse.
The sea-view condo development was built in 1981 in the southeast corner of Surfside, on the beach. It had a few two-bedroom units currently on the market, with asking prices of $600,000 to $700,000.
The area is a mix of new and old apartments, houses, condominiums and hotels, with restaurants and stores serving an international combination of residents and tourists. The community provides a stark contrast from bustle and glitz of South Beach with a slower paced neighborhood feel.
Photos and video from the scene show the collapse affected half the tower. Piles of rubble and debris surrounded the area just outside the building. The department has yet to say what may have caused the collapse near 88th Street and Collins Avenue.
The building address is 8777 Collins Avenue, according to Surfside police. The sea-view condo development was built in 1981 in the southeast corner of Surfside, on the beach. It had a few two-bedroom units currently on the market, with asking prices of $600,000 to $700,000, an internet search shows.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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