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As search persists in Florida condo disaster, portraits of the unaccounted for emerge

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The families of more than 150 people who remain unaccounted for a day after a high-rise condo building partially collapsed in Surfside, Florida, say they're doing their best to remain hopeful.

The collapse occurred around 1:30 a.m. Thursday and resulted in at least four deaths and 11 people injured. On Friday morning, rescue crews continued their search for possible survivors.

As officials comb through the rubble of the 12-story building, family members are coming forward to share photos and memories of their loved ones.

Edgar Gonzalez, 44

Edgar Gonzalez (Angela Gonzalez)
Edgar Gonzalez (Angela Gonzalez)

Edgar Gonzalez remains unaccounted for, his best friend, Rolando Moreno, told the "TODAY" show.

Moreno said he found out about the collapse through another friend. When he called Gonzalez's sister, she said that he had already been reported as missing.

Moreno described the married father as "one of the greatest guys" and asked people to continue praying.

"I'm holding out hope," he said. "I'm praying. We have a great community of friends you know, keep fighting, keep hope alive please."

Gonzalez was in his apartment with his wife and 16-year-old daughter at the time of the collapse. They were taken to the hospital, Moreno said.

Judy Spiegel, 65

Judy Spiegel's daughter, Rachel, told NBC Miami that the family is "just hoping and praying" for some good news.

Her husband, Kevin, described her as "an amazing person" and a "real estate philanthropist."

“She’s a tireless fighter to raise the experience of patients in health care and she’s been amazing,” he said.

Luis Fernando Barth Gomez, Catalina Barth Gomez, Valeria Barth Gomez

Luis Gomez, Catalina Gomez, and their daughter Valeria Barth
Luis Gomez, Catalina Gomez, and their daughter Valeria Barth

A family spokesperson confirmed to NBC News that Luis, his wife, Catalina, and their 14-year-old daughter, Valeria, were visiting Florida and are among those who are unaccounted for. The teen was a part of a tennis camp in the area.

The family was staying in a second-floor apartment, the spokesperson said. They were last heard from around 8 p.m. ET on Wednesday.

Ray and Mercy Urgellas

Ray and Mercy Urgelles.  (via Facebook)
Ray and Mercy Urgelles. (via Facebook)

The husband and wife had lived in the high-rise building for seven years, her daughter, Jenny Urgellas, told NBC Miami. She's been trying to reach her parents since Thursday morning.

"I can't believe that this is actually happening," she said. "My emotions are I'm upset, I'm sad, I just feel like it's like waves of emotion that I'm going through right now. You see the photos [of the collapse] and they're so awful."

Sophia López Moreira, husband Luis Pettengill and their children

Paraguay’s foreign minister confirmed that the sister of first lady Silvana López Moreira and her family are among those unaccounted for.

Sophia López Moreira and her husband Luis Pettengill, along with their three children, were staying at an apartment in the Champlain Towers South when it partially collapsed, Euclides Acevedo said. The family had been traveling with a worker, Lady Luna Villalba, who is also unaccounted for.

Acevedo told a local newspaper that he does not know how long the family had been in Florida.

Paraguay’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement on its website that it was monitoring the situation and a total of six Paraguayans have been reported missing.

Elena Blasser, 64, and Elena Chavez, 87

JP Rodriguez is searching for his mother, Elena Blasser, and his grandmother, Elena Chavez. They lived on the 11th floor of Champlain Towers South.

He told NBC's "TODAY" show in an emotional interview that he and his mother spoke every night after he got off work. During their last conversation, she told him that strange creaking noises in her building had kept her awake but he told her not to worry.

"And now it's like, was it a big deal? Should we have thought more about it?" he said, adding, "I'm devastated."

The family had recently returned from a trip to Washington and Philadelphia to visit his brother. He said they were a close-knit family and described his mother as a "force of nature."

"She loved life, she was a great person," he said. "She was just an all-around great person."

Rodriguez described his grandmother as "vibrant" and "super funny." Her birthday is a little over a month away, on July 31.

"[She] took care of everything by herself," he said. "She helped raise me. She's just a great person who loved life."

Rodriguez said he's trying to stay positive but after watching video of the collapse his "hope just disintegrated."

"We were a very close family. We would always take vacations together at least twice a year. They were here every single Saturday religiously to spend the day with us and my son," he said. "So it's rough."

This story will continue to be updated.

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