Rescue Efforts Continue at Collapsed Surfside Condo, Up to 159 People Missing

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Overnight, search and rescue teams continued their efforts, searching through the remains of a 12-story condo building that partially collapsed early Thursday morning. They are still searching for signs of life, while beginning to extricate bodies from the rubble. 

Up to 159 people are still unaccounted for, and four are confirmed dead after three bodies were removed from the debris overnight, Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said at a press briefing Friday morning. The number of people accounted for is 120, she said, but cautioned that the numbers are subject to change.

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The oceanfront Champlain Towers South at 8777 Collins Avenue partially collapsed at around 2 a.m. Thursday morning. One wing of the 136-unit building flattened, destroying more than 50 homes, and an underground parking garage crumpled. Around 35 people were evacuated from the rubble Thursday morning, but no further survivors have been found. 

Authorities have not provided a reason for the collapse, and most experts agreed that there would have been warning signs if there were any structural faults that could have led to destruction of this magnitude. 

Though the reason remains unclear, some details have emerged. The building was about to begin a required 40-year inspection, a requirement put in place after a tragic collapse in 1974. There was also construction at the neighboring site, where foundation work on an 18-story building had been underway.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis late Thursday night declared a state of emergency to facilitate federal rescue, housing and financial assistance. Early Friday, President Joe Biden followed by signing an emergency order and deploying federal agencies — the Department of Homeland Security and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) — to aid state and local response efforts.

This is a developing story. Last updated Friday 6/25/21 6:30pm.