A young boy has miraculously been pulled alive from the rubble of a 12-story Miami Beach apartment building after it collapsed in the middle of the night, killing at least one person – as authorities fear there could be dozens more casualties.
A huge emergency search and rescue operation is underway after the beachfront condo tower, Champlain Towers South, collapsed at about 1.30am this morning in the Miami neighborhood of Surfside.
One woman has already been confirmed dead and at least 10 people were injured when the building collapsed.
Rescue teams rescued 35 people from the damaged building and two people, including the young boy, were pulled from the rubble in the early stages of the search operation. Hundreds of firefighters were seen walking through the wreckage, picking up other survivors and carrying them away.
Authorities fear many more people may be dead or remain trapped under the rubble.
‘The building has literally pancaked,’ Surfside Mayor Charles 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.’
Authorities do not yet know how many people are missing but they said the building was ‘substantially full’ when it collapsed.
Of the building’s 136 apartments, 55 were destroyed. The building is located one block away from where Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump currently live.
A huge emergency search and rescue operation is underway after the beachfront condo tower, Champlain Towers South, collapsed at about 1.30am this morning in the Miami neighborhood of Surfside. One woman has been confirmed dead and at least eight people were injured
Rescue teams are trawling the wreckage for any survivors and have already miraculously pulled a young boy, who was conscious, from rubble
Video from the scene showed firefighters pulling a young boy from the rubble. Witnesses also reported hearing screams from beneath the collapsed building
Authorities have not yet determined what caused the building to collapse but confirmed that renovations had been underway on the roof.
Mayor Burkett said it was unlikely that the roof work had anything to do with the collapse, instead describing it as a ‘catastrophic failure’ of the building.
‘It’s hard to imagine how this could have happened,’ Burkett said. ‘Buildings just don’t fall down.
‘There’s no reason for this building to go down like that unless someone literally pulls the supports out from underneath.’
Burkett suggested that potential causes could be the result of the foundations being washed out or a sinkhole.
The Miami-Dade Police have assumed control of the investigation as to why the building collapsed.
The collapse left a number of units in the still-standing part of the building exposed.
Bunk beds, tables and chairs could be seen still left inside the damaged apartments. Air conditioner units were hanging from some parts of the building where wires now dangled.
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 debris from the collapse coated cars up to two blocks away with a light layer of dust.
Bunk beds, tables and chairs could be seen still left inside the damaged apartments. Air conditioner units were hanging from some parts of the building where wires now dangled
The collapse left a number of units in the still-standing part of the building exposed with furniture visible inside some apartments
Authorities have not yet determined what caused the building to collapse but confirmed that renovations had been underway on the roof
Of the building’s 136 apartments, 55 were destroyed. Authorities have not yet determined what caused the building to collapse but confirmed that renovations had been underway on the roof
Pictures and videos from the scene suggest a full section of the tower collapsed (pictured), which left huge piles of debris lying at the corner of Collins Avenue
One woman has died and at least nine people are injured, including a firefighter, following the collapse just before 1.30am, according to local media reports. One person is said to be in critical condition. Pictured: The partially collapsed building
Witnesses claim to have heard people screaming beneath the rubble (left and right) during frantic efforts to free them from the wreckage of the building
There have been dozens of people impacted by the collapse (pictured: the partially collapsed building), according to local media, but authorities have not yet confirmed any details of potential casualties
Witness Kimberly Morales, who lives across the street, told CNN she was woken up by alarms going off and people pounding on her door, as she didn’t hear the building collapse. Pictured: A portion of the condo tower crumbled to the ground
Barry Cohen, 63, said he and his wife were asleep in the building when he first heard what he thought was a crack of lightning.
The couple went onto their balcony, then opened the door to the building’s hallway to find ‘a pile of rubble and dust and smoke billowing around’.
‘I couldn´t walk out past my doorway,’ said Cohen, the former vice mayor of Surfside. ‘A gaping hole of rubble.’
He and his wife eventually made it to the basement and found rising water there. They returned upstairs, screamed for help and were eventually brought to safety by firefighters using a cherry-picker.
Cohen said he raised concerns years ago about whether nearby construction might be causing damage to the building after seeing cracked pavers on the pool deck.
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.
A portion of the 12-story condo tower crumbled to the ground during a partial collapse of the apartment block. It is unknown at this time how many people were injured as search-and-rescue effort continues
Southbound traffic is being diverted west on 96th Street and northbound traffic is being diverted at 85th Street and Collins Avenue as authorities continue with the rescue operation (right), Miami-Dade Fire Rescue (left) confirmed
Freelance journalist Joel Franco, who was on the scene, claimed that the fire department had managed to rescue some people from their balconies. Pictured: Emergency personnel working at the scene
There are fears that many people may be dead or remain trapped beneath the rubble (pictured) at Champlain Towers South following the collapse
One witness, who was staying in the south Florida island city with his family, was in a neighboring building at the time and said the collapse sounded and felt like a tornado or earthquake.
‘It was the craziest thing I ever heard in my life,’ he told Fox News.
Witnesses claimed to have heard people screaming beneath the rubble during frantic efforts to free them from the wreckage of the building.
One witness told NBC: ‘They are able to rescue some people but I heard some screams.’
When the building initially collapsed, more than 80 rescue units were on the scene, including designated teams skilled in retrieving bodies from wreckages.
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.
Miami-Dade Fire Rescue confirmed that more than 80 units (right), including Technical Rescue Teams, were at the scene of the collapse (left)
Emergency personnel from multiple fire departments and other agencies (pictured) were seen working at the scene of the partial building collapse in Miami Beach
Rescue personnel work near where a portion of the 12-story condo tower crumbled to the ground during a partial collapse of the building in Surfside
The building, a twelve-story apartment block called Champlain Towers South (pictured), collapsed in the early hours of this morning.
A view inside one of the apartments at Champlain Towers South