Four dead, 159 unaccounted for in condo collapse

“This has been a tragic night….”

Rescue workers on Friday scoured the wreckage of a Miami-area condo that collapsed a day earlier as officials raised the number of those missing to 159 and confirmed that four people are dead.

Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said that 120 people had been accounted for, and that despite the dangerous conditions rescue teams were (quote) “incredibly motivated” to find survivors among the rubble.

“We will continue search-and-rescue because we still have hope that we will find people alive.”

Rescuers heard sounds of banging and other noises overnight, but it is not yet known whether they came from falling debris or people tapping.

[MIAMI-DADE FIRE RESCUE ASSISTANT FIRE CHIEF RAY JADALLAH]: “Every time that we hear a sound, we concentrate on that area.”

The Champlain Towers South condominium, located in Surfside, collapsed early Thursday morning.

It had more than 130 units, about 80 of which were occupied.

Footage captured by a security camera nearby showed an entire side of the building suddenly folding in two sections, one after the other.

What caused the 40-year-old high-rise to cave in was not immediately known, although local officials said the 12-story tower was going through a recertification process requiring repairs, with another building under construction on an adjacent site.

Radar data showed that the land underneath the building was sinking during the 1990s, according to a 2020 study. One of the study’s authors said that that by itself would not cause a building to collapse but that it is worth investigating further.

Late Thursday, a resident filed what is believed to be the first lawsuit against the condominium, saying in a proposed class action that the collapse could have been avoided had the condominium made needed repairs and ensured it was safe.

U.S. President Joe Biden approved an emergency declaration in Florida and ordered FEMA to assist state and local response efforts.