Authorities have declared 51 residents missing.
In the city of Surfside in south Florida, a 12-storey residential building on the ocean coast partially collapsed, killing at least one person and another 51 people are missing. Hundreds of firefighters and rescuers are working at the scene.
According to Miami-Dade County Commissioner Sally Heyman, the authorities have not yet been able to get in touch with 51 people who “allegedly” lived in this building. Among the residents were families who come to spend the winter in Florida.
A fire protection officer said that 35 people were rescued from the building. Two of them were pulled out from under the rubble.
After talking with local authorities, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said that there may be other victims under the rubble. He added that he plans to personally visit the scene of the incident.
“We will hope for the best, but we are preparing for bad news, given the scale of the destruction,” DeSantis said, speaking at an event at a community college near Tampa.
Built-in 1981, the building had more than 130 apartments, about 80 of which were occupied.
The collapse occurred at 2 am local time. It is unclear how many people were inside the building at that moment.
“It’s hard to imagine how this could have happened,” Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett told reporters. According to him, construction work was underway on the roof, but it is unclear whether any heavy equipment was involved in the project.