At least one dead, a dozen injured and dozens missing is the preliminary balance of the partial collapse of a 12-story building at dawn this Thursday in Miami-Dade County, Florida.
The number of people unaccounted for rose from 51 to 99, according to Miami-Dade County Police Director Feddy Ramirez and later confirmed by Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava.
The authorities stressed that the fact that a person is missing does not mean that he was in the building, but that it has not been possible to contact him.
In total, 102 people are located and safe.
Rescue teams with specialized dogs in search of people mobilized to the Surfside area, right on the border with Miami Beach, and began a huge operation to locate survivors among the ruins.
The causes of the collapse of the building, which was inaugurated in 1981, are not clear and an investigation is already underway.
In the area, which is completely cordoned off, several people are gathering who want to know about their relatives, according to the BBC Mundo journalist Cecilia Barría from the place.
Mayor Levine Cava drafted an emergency declaration that has already been signed by the state governor, Ron DeSantis, which will allow the release of funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) that will go to affected families and reconstruction tasks.
US President Joe Biden confirmed that the federal government is ready to offer help.
“I tell the people of Florida: whatever help you want the federal government to provide, we are waiting, ask us for it and we will be there,” he said.
The collapse occurred before 2:00 am local time (6:00 GMT) and affected the rear of Champlain Towers, a 12-story condominium and more than 130 beachfront apartments.
“The rear of the building, probably a third or more, is totally destroyed,” said Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett.
Several witnesses described to BBC Mundo that they heard a huge roar at that moment.
“A sound wave hit the windows and we went out to see what was happening,” said Juan Esteban Triana, a young Brazilian raised in Colombia who lives one block from the complex where the collapse occurred.
“We saw people on the balconies calling for help with flashlights, but when we approached to help, police had already arrived from all over Miami and closed the avenue,” he added.
“We offered the house to give food or so that the police could use the bathrooms. I feel very frustrated to see people calling for help and not being able to do anything but watch.”