SURFSIDE, Fla. (AP) — A “very deep fire” hampered rescue efforts Saturday at the collapsed oceanfront condominium tower near Miami where authorities are racing to recover any survivors beneath a mountain of rubble, officials said.
Rescuers were using infrared technology, water and foam to battle the blaze, whose source was unclear. Smoke has been the biggest barrier, Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said during a news conference.
“We’re facing very incredible difficulties with this fire. It’s a very deep fire. It’s extremely difficult to locate the source of the fire,” she said.
One hundred fifty-nine people remain unaccounted for since Thursday’s collapse, which killed at least four.
Authorities also announced Saturday they are beginning an audit of buildings nearing their 40-year review — like the fallen Champlain Towers South — to make sure they’re safe.
Federal Emergency Management Agency officials have joined local and state authorities at the site, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said.
On Saturday, a crane could be seen removing pieces of rubble from a more than 30-foot pile of debris at the collapse site. Scores of rescuers used big machines, small buckets, drones, microphones and their own hands to pick through the mountain of debris that had been the 12-story Champlain Towers South.
Levine Cava told WPLG there was no change in the number of people still unaccounted for: “We are at status quo,” she said. “I’m hopeful this will be a day that we have will have a breakthrough.”
Rachel Spiegel was anxious for any update on her missing mother, 66-year-old Judy Spiegel, who lived on the sixth floor.
“I’m just praying for a miracle,” Spiegel said. “We’re heartbroken that she was even in the building.”
Jeanne Ugarte was coming to grips with what she feared was a tragic end for longtime friends Juan and Ana Mora and their son Juan Jr., who was visiting his parents in their condo at the tower.
“I know they’re not going to find them (alive),” Ugarte said. “It’s been too long.”
While officials said no cause for the collapse early Thursday has been determined, Gov. Ron DeSantis said a “definitive answer” was needed in a timely manner. Video showed the center of the building appearing to tumble down first, followed by a section nearer to the beach.
The 2018 report was part of preliminary work by the engineering company conducting the building’s required inspections for a recertification due this year of the building’s structural integrity at 40 years. The condominium tower was built in 1981.
–Condon reported from New York. Associated Press Terry Spencer in Surfside contributed to this report.
About the photo: A crane works at the site of the Champlain Towers South Condo building, Saturday, June 26, 2021, in the Surfside area of Miami. The apartment building partially collapsed on Thursday. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
Was this article valuable?
Here are more articles you may enjoy.