NewslettersSign inAPP
spainSPAINargentinaARGENTINAchileCHILEcolombiaCOLOMBIAusaUSAmexicoMEXICOperuPERUlatin usaLATIN USAamericaAMERICA

Miami condo collapse updates on Sunday, 28 June

Rescue personnel continues search and rescue operations for survivors of a partially collapsed residential building in Surfside, near Miami Beach, Florida, U.S. June 26, 2021. REUTERS/Marco Bello

Miami building collapse: breaking news


- Search and rescue efforts continue following the collapse on Thursday of the Champlain Towers South apartment block in Surfside, Miami-Dade County, Florida

- A further four bodies have been recovered, with nine people now confirmed to have died in the disaster.

- Eight of the nine victims recovered from rubble identified

- At least 152 people are still missing, while 134 have been accounted for

- The fire in the debris that was hampering rescue efforts has now been controlled allowing rescue operations to take place across the site

- Champlain Towers South's sister building has been evacuated

- The causes of the building's sudden collapse remain unclear

Related news articles:

Family describe narrow escape from Miami condo collapse

Awoken from their sleep as the building's structure began to fail, a New Jersey family amazed that they made it out.

Updates from Surfside, Florida building collapse

NPR Correspondent Brian Mann speaks with Hari Sreenivasan on the latest about the tragic collapse of the Champlain Towers South in Surfside, Florida.

Four more remains identified in Miami condo collapse 

Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava says that another four bodies pulled from the rubble of the collapsed condominium have been identified. That makes eight of the nine victims that have been found so far.

A unique search and rescue on Surfside

The tragic collapse of Champlain Towers South condominium presents Miami-Dade Fire Rescue with search and rescue difficulties as multilayered as the rubble that used to be 12 floors of apartments and a lobby. 

“This is the most complex situation we’ve ever encountered,” MDFR Assistant Fire Chief Ray Jadallah told family, friends and loved ones of victims during the Saturday afternoon update filmed by Instagram user abigailpereiraok.

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue has an international accreditation that few departments possess. Their rescue workers get sent to disasters elsewhere. But the department now faces a unique mix of issues that vary from many other calamities.

Read more

Playing the blame game

When it comes to incidents like this a full, impartial and detailed investigation needs to take place in order to identify exactly where things went tragically wrong. But that doesn't stop the early finger pointing and counter arguments on social media and beyond.

An example...


Earlier today. An aerial view shows the partially collapsed residential building as cranes work at the site in Surfside near Miami Beach.

Photo: Reuters/Marco Bello

Remembering those that have been lost

A mother whose teenage son was one of the few known survivors.

Stacie Fang, 54, was the mother of one of the few people known to have survived the collapse. Her son, Jonah Handler, 15, a student at Monsignor Edward Pace High School in Miami Gardens, was pulled from the wreckage hours after the collapse after being spotted by a passerby.

Fang was vice president at a firm that puts on an annual event for customer relationship management, retail and marketing executives, according to her LinkedIn account.

A former resident of New York City’s Staten Island, she was a graduate of Pace University.

"There are no words to describe the tragic loss of our beloved Stacie," her family said in a statement.

Remembering those that have been lost

A couple married for nearly 60 years.

As rescuers continue searching through the rubble for anyone still alive after a Florida condominium collapsed in the early hours of Thursday, killing at least nine, details are emerging of those who lost their lives.

Antonio Lozano, 83 and his 79-year-old wife Gladys were three weeks shy of celebrating their 59th wedding anniversary.

The couple would joke about who would die first because they didn’t want to live without each other, their son, Sergio, told local media.

Sergio Lozano said he had dinner with his parents in their eighth-floor apartment just hours before the disaster. After returning to his own home across the street, he woke up to a loud rumble around 1 a.m. and saw from his balcony that his parents' building had fallen down.

Lozano told Miami ABC affiliate WPLG he said to his wife,

"My parents' apartment is not there, it's gone!" before running downstairs.

According to family members, the Lozanos were avid donors to non-profit organizations.

“Their souls were truly beautiful and are now blessed,” Brian Lozano, their grandson, told ABC News in a statement.

Individual stories

Remember 156 missing people are 156 individual stories, of people who laughed, loved and lived. 


The Pope sends condolences 

Pope Francis has send his condolences and offered prayers for those affected by the building collapse.

"There is always hope"

There are rescue teams from Israel and Mexico helping in the efforts to recover survivors.

City of Miami Beach: State of emergency declared 

The City of Miami Beach has declared a state of emergency after the collapse of the Champlain Towers South in Surfside, Florida. 

The collapsed building lies a stone's throw from Miami Beach's northern border with Surfside and according to a press release issued on Sunday, "a significant portion of the staging for the emergency response is taking place within Miami Beach". 

The declaration means the city will be able to receive reimbursement for expenditure on the recovery efforts at the disaster scene.


Mayor Daniella Levine confirming death toll is at nine 

How long can victims survive under rubble?

The search operation is ongoing in Miami to try and find victims alive in the remains of the collapsed building. This BBC article from 2016 looks at how long people can survive under rubble.

It explains that while the UN usually decides to call off search and rescue attempts between five and seven days after a disaster and once nobody has been found alive for a day or two, there have been instances where people have survived much longer.

The most important thing is to have an oxygen supply from outside the debris, to have no or minimal injuries and to have access to some sort of water.

Estimating how long people can survive without water is a “million dollar question” but the average is between three and seven days.

Though extremely rare, people have survived for many days after a disaster, with examples including a woman pulled from the ruins of a factory in Bangladesh 17  days after it collapsed, and a man who survived for 12 days under the rubble of a shop that collapsed in the Haiti earthquake of 2010.

Fire under control

The fire that was hampering rescue efforts yesterday has been controlled according to Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava. 

"Yesterday we suppressed the fire that had been going out of control and the smoke that was inhibiting activities in certain parts of the pile, so around noon yesterday that was brought under control, making it possible for the search to continue in those areas as well," she said. 

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue footage

The rescuers have lifted a huge piece of rubble out of the debris of the collapsed building. The piece of rubble was moved from the site using one of the cranes set up to try and excavate the debris.

Authorities relying on DNA testing to identify victims

Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava has explained that authorities have been gathering DNA samples from relatives of those thought to be in the debris of the buildings.

“The process of identifying these victims is very difficult," Cava said. “We're going to be relying on DNA testing,” she explained, saying that family members have participated and provided DNA to assist in the investigation.

“This allows us to do rapid DNA testing on site for bodies that we, and we know we identified three bodies in the rubble,” Cava said.

Deep trench being dug to assist rescue efforts

Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava has explained that the rescue teams are "cutting a deep trench to assist us." The trench goes into the debris of the collapsed building. "It's now 125 feet in length into the pile. It's 20 feet wide and 40 feet deep. This trench is very critical to the continuation of the search and rescue process," said Levine Cava. 

Four additional bodies found

Miami authorities confirm first responders recovered four additional bodies last night, plus further unidentified human remains. The official death toll now stands at nine.

Rescuers in Miami

Rescue teams from Israel, experts from Mexico join the operation

Emergency workers in Surfside have been joined by teams from Israel and experts from Mexico, as the rescue operation continues on the fourth day after the building’s collapse on Thursday around 1:30 am. "Everybody that is needed is on the site and doing the work and we're continuing our efforts to find people alive," Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava told CBS today.

The rescuers, aided by dogs, infrared scanning and heavy equipment, are hopeful that people have survived in air pockets formed in the debris.

"The biggest thing now is hope," Fire Chief Alan Cominsky said. "That's what's driving us. It's an extremely difficult situation."

Some residents of the building have told of narrow escapes. Champlain Towers South resident Erick de Moura was meant to be at home when the tragedy happened, but his girlfriend persuaded him to spend the night at her place less than 2 miles away in Miami Beach, likely saving his life.

"Only by God. To me this is a miracle," the 40-year-old Brazil native told Reuters.

Surfside building

An aerial view shows the partially collapsed residential building in Surfside.

(Photo: REUTERS/Marco Bello)

Officials having “very frank conversations” with families of missing - Miami-Dade County mayor

Daniella Levine Cava, the mayor of Miami-Dade County, has told the Miami Herald that officials are having “very frank conversations” with family members of people still unaccounted for following Thursday’s collapse of the Champlain Towers South apartment building in Surfside.

“The firefighters and others who’ve briefed them are very direct about the situation, that we are continuing to search. We do continue to hope that we find people, but certainly they’re aware that we’re finding remains and even that we’re finding body parts so they’re preparing for that,” Cava said.

What can I say? It’s a terrible, terrible situation, one in which they’re coming through it with our support.”

"I can't even imagine being in a position, as the position that they are in, not knowing"

Maggie Castro of Miami-Dade Fire Rescue has told CNN that she “can’t even imagine” what the loved ones of those missing in the rubble of Champlain Towers South are going through amid what she described as an “extremely highly emotional situation”.

Castro also spoke of the frustration rescue workers feel when their searches yield no news for the families of people still unaccounted for.

"This is an extremely highly emotional situation that these families are in,” Castro said. “I can't even imagine being in a position, as the position that they are in, not knowing, feeling helpless as to not do anything themselves.

They don't have anywhere to place these emotions right now, because there is a lot of them. And it's okay. If they need to direct them at us, we're more than willing to handle it. We understand that they have to let this emotion out somewhere.”

Castro continued: “We work hour after hour hoping, because this is what we do, we save people, and this is what we want to do, and we want to bring the family members back to their families. And when we come up empty-handed, it's difficult for us as well.”

Rescue effort "continues around the clock" - Miami-Dade fire dept

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue has tweeted a video of the scene in Surfside, writing: "The work of first responders continues around the clock in the effort to find survivors in void spaces within the rubble of the #SurfsideBuildingCollapse."

Flowers and note memorial Champlain Towers South

Flowers and a note hang on the fence at a memorial site created by neighbors of the partially collapsed Champlain Towers South building in Surfside.

(Photo: REUTERS/Maria Alejandra Cardona)

Residents of sister building voluntarily evacuated - Surfside mayor

Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said on Saturday that residents of Champlain Towers South’s sister building, Champlain Towers North, were being evacuated on a voluntary basis.

Speaking to reporters, Burkett said officials had inspected Champlain Towers North and found nothing “out of the ordinary”, but admitted that this review had not been a “deep dive”.

I have received calls from many residents who were frightened given the fact that the building they live in, Champlain Towers North, is basically the same building as Champlain Towers South,” Burkett said. “It was built at about the same time, it was built by the same developer, it was probably built with the same plans, it was probably bit with the same materials.

“Given that we cannot determine what made Champlain South fall down, it’s understandable they’re nervous.”

He added: “I reached out to [Florida] Senator [Rick] Scott and [Miami-Dade County] Mayor [Daniella Levine] Cava and voiced my concerns and […] the resolution of that was to tell the residents what we knew, give them the option to relocate if they wanted to and basically get in there and do a top-to-bottom forensic study of the building.

“What happened today was out Surfside building official went in to the Champlain Towers North and the Champlain Towers East, which is adjacent, and they did a cursory review of the structure. And to paraphrase my conversation with my building official, he came back and said they didn’t find anything that was out of the ordinary. So that’s reassuring, but that is not a deep dive.”

Surfside debris

A view of the debris from a partially collapsed Champlain Towers South residential building on Saturday as emergency crews continue search and rescue operations for survivors.

(Photo: REUTERS/Marco Bello)

2018 engineer's report found major structural damage

A 2018 report on the Champlain Towers South apartment block showed that an engineer found evidence of major structural damage beneath the pool deck and "concrete deterioration" in the underground parking garage of the 12-story oceanfront condominium.

The report, released by town officials, was produced for the condominium board in preparation for a major repair project set for this year. It was not immediately clear whether the damage described in the report was connected to the building's collapse early on Thursday.

Vice Mayor Tina Paul called the structural issue described in the document "very alarming" in an email on Saturday morning.

Donna DiMaggio Berger, a lawyer who works with the condo association at Champlain Towers South, said the issues outlined in the 2018 report were typical for older buildings in the area and did not alarm condo board members, all of whom lived in the tower with their families.

She added that the board had taken out a $12 million line of credit to pay for the repairs and asked owners to pay $80,000 each. Work had started on replacing the roof ahead of hurricane season and the board was gathering bids for the concrete work, but the pandemic slowed the project, she said.

The condominium was also preparing for recertification this year, a safety requirement for buildings older than 40 years in Florida. Officials said the county would audit all buildings more than 40 years old within the next 30 days to ensure they have been recertified.

Satellite data from the 1990s showed the building was sinking 1 to 3 millimeters per year, while surrounding buildings were stable, according to Florida International University professor Shimon Wdowinski.


FEMA administrator to visit Surfside on Sunday

FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell says she will be visiting Surfside on Sunday, at the request of President Biden, “to discuss ongoing response efforts”.

“My heart is with the affected residents and the families still waiting for news about their loved ones,” Criswell said.

Biden: "My heart is with the community of Surfside"

US President Joe Biden, who on Thursday approved a declaration of emergency in Florida and sent in FEMA officials, has tweeted out a message of support for those affected by the collapse of the Champlain Towers South apartment block.

"My heart is with the community of Surfside as they grieve their lost loved ones and wait anxiously as search and rescue efforts continue," Biden wrote.

"Yesterday I spoke with Gov. DeSantis to let him know that we are ready to provide assistance as needed by state and local officials."

Four victims of Surfside building collapse identified

The Miami-Dade Police Department has released the names of four of the five people who so far have been confirmed dead in the collapse of the Champlain Towers South apartment block in Surfside.

They are Stacie Dawn Fang, 54, Antonio Lozano, 83, Gladys Lozano, 79, and Manuel LaFont, 54.

Levine Cava press conference

"Our top priority continues to be search and rescue and saving any lives that we can"

Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava confirmed that the death toll had risen to five in a press conference held on Saturday evening.

"Today our search and rescue teams found another body in the rubble," Cava said, adding: "Our top priority continues to be search and rescue and saving any lives that we can."

Officials said they harbored hope that some of the 156 people unaccounted for might be alive.

Firefighters on Saturday made progress on a smoldering fire and smoke beneath the rubble of the building, allowing rescuers to search with fewer limitations, officials said.

"The biggest thing now is hope," Fire Chief Alan Cominsky said. "That's what's driving us. It's an extremely difficult situation."

(Reuters contributed to this post; photo: Eva Marie UZCATEGUI / AFP)

Live updates on Surfside building collapse: welcome

Hello and welcome to our live coverage of the search and rescue efforts in Surfside, Miami-Dade County, following the collapse of a residential building in the Florida town on Thursday.

Five people have now been confirmed dead in the tragedy. A further 156 people remain unaccounted for, with 130 now accounted for.


To be able to comment you must be registered and logged in. Forgot password?