Hundreds of fire and rescue workers from 18 departments continue to dig through thousands of tons of rubble after the collapse of a 12-story Miami-area oceanfront residential high-rise.
The tragedy occurred early Thursday, leaving one person dead but it is possible that dozens could still be trapped. At least 15 people have been injured.
Prayers for the trapped and injured are being offered across social media platforms today. Local churches are organizing support to displaced individuals.
Dozens of people were evacuated from the attached building and from a nearby hotel, but it was not known how many more casualties there could be as the search and rescue operation was still continuing, officials said.
The building in the town of Surfside, Florida, about 15 miles north of Miami on the Atlantic coast, collapsed about 2 a.m. Eastern. It was connected to another high-rise.
Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett told the media that the cause has not been determined. The high rise was built in 1981 and has more than 130 units, according to NBC Miami. Officials have said about 80 were occupied by a mixture of owners and Airbnb and other rental services.
“It’s hard to imagine how this could have happened,” Burkett said. “Buildings just don’t fall down.”
The Miami-Dade Police have assumed control of the investigation as to why the building collapsed. More than 80 fire and rescue units the Miami-Dade County Fire Rescue Department said in a tweet early Thursday.
An image posted on the Twitter account of the Miami Beach Police, which is assisting the operation, showed a tangle of rubble with debris cascading down from what was left of the balconies of the building.
Eyewitness video obtained by Reuters showed neighbors gathering across the street from the rubble of a collapsed tower.
“This whole building here, it’s completely gone,” a person can be heard saying.
“MBPD and @MiamiBeachFire are assisting the Town of Surfside at a partial building collapse located at 8777 Collins Avenue in Surfside, Florida. Multiple police and fire agencies from across Miami-Dade are assisting,” the police said.