At least one person was killed on Thursday when part of a 12-story, 40-year-old residential building collapsed on a main street in Miami Beach, where firefighters are struggling to rescue people who were trapped.
Miami Beach County firefighters confirmed the first fatality from the collapse, which occurred in the middle of the night as residents of the building slept.
Several people have been taken to area hospitals. Following the collapse, the causes of which are unknown, a mountain of debris formed next to the Champlain Towers building, where about 80 rescuers have been working throughout the night to search for possible victims and survivors to remove those still inside the building.
In emergency communications services, Miami Beach firefighters indicated that they were working on the building collapse “with multiple patients” and were requesting the assistance of “all available units.”
Numerous people have gathered in the vicinity of the building, outside the security cordon, such as Santos Mejia, who told Local 10 that his wife, Janet Rodriguez, was in the building taking care of a 95-year-old and called to say that she had felt an earthquake. Both are fine, as far as Santos Mejia could tell by phone, but they are still in the building.
The collapse, the causes of which are being investigated, occurred on the side facing Miami Beach.
The building has 130 apartments, but it is not known how many were occupied or how many people were inside when a complete part of the structure fell, as there are many neighbors who do not live there permanently.
The Miami-Dade County Technical Rescue Team is working at the scene with the help of fire departments from several of the cities in this sector of Miami.
Authorities set up a hotline for people seeking information about residents of the Champlain Towers building.
People living in neighboring buildings said they were startled when they heard what sounded like an explosion. “It was like rocks were falling and then sparks started falling from the wall and the power went out. I woke up nervous with all this tragedy. It was really ugly,” Armando Roig, who lives next to the building that collapsed, told Noticias 23.
Some buildings and houses around the site of the collapse are without electricity, while several trucks of the FPL electricity company are working to restore the service.