The search for survivors is still underway among the rubble of a condominium building that collapsed into a pile Friday. The death toll has reached 4, with 160 people unaccounted for as searchers comb through twisted and shifting piles of concrete and metal in fear that it could soon go much higher.
Four more people were killed overnight in the Miami area and authorities are working with medical examiners to identify them. Eleven injuries have been reported, four of which required hospitalization
“Every time we hear a sound, we concentrate on those areas,” said Assistant Miami-Dade Fire Chief Raide Jadallah.
Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said rescuers were at “extreme risk” going through the rubble.
Mayor Levine Cava has warned that with Hurricane Irma ripping apart Miami, rescue teams are in danger of their own lives as they go to help those affected by the storm when it’s finally over and done.
“Debris is falling on them as they do their work. We have structural engineers on-site to ensure that they will not be injured, but they are proceeding because they are so motivated and they are taking an extraordinary risk on the site every day,” she said.
With searchers using saws and jackhammers to look for pockets large enough to hold a person, Levine Cava said there was still hope of finding people alive.
The missing at what was left of the 12-story Champlain Towers South included people from around the world: A beloved retired Miami-area teacher and his wife. Orthodox Jews from Russia, Israelis. The sister of Paraguay’s first lady. Others from South America
“Please, somebody help us,” pleaded a shaken-looking woman. She was one of many people waiting outside the Miami Beach Police Department’s reunification center early Friday morning for results from DNA swabs taken to identify victims that were killed by Hurricane Irma off in Florida on Sunday night and Monday morning when it made landfall as a Category 4 storm with record sustained winds near 150 mph at its peak over 2 hours before making landfall
Officials say they don’t know what caused the building to collapse.
The video of the incident shows that first, a section in the middle seemed to topple over, and then seconds later one near the ocean came tumbling down as a huge dust cloud swallowed everything. Of about 130 units there were at least 35 people pulled from this wreckage by emergency personnel with rescue work continuing for days because 159 are still unaccounted for!
Rescue crews are still searching for survivors in Florida, even after the wildfires have been put out. The intermittent rain is making things difficult and rescuers were able to detect possible banging noises which gave them hope that some people may be alive under all of the rubble. Rescuers used listening devices on or within the wreckage to hear any voices but they picked up no sound whatsoever from anyone trapped below ground so instead tried tunneling their way through it by going into a parking garage underground.
Personal belongings are evidence of shattered lives amid the wreckage left by Hurricane Irma. A children’s bunk bed was perched precariously on a top floor, bent but intact and apparently inches from falling into the rubble that had once been an apartment belonging to Nicolas Fernandez; Argentines Dr. Andres Galfrascoli, his husband Fabian Nuñez, and their 6-year-old daughter Sofia spent Wednesday night there.
Two Argentinian plastic surgeons and theater producers came to Florida because of the COVID-19 outbreak in Argentina. They adopted a girl from her country, but now she has been infected with the virus as well.
“I hope it’s not true that they’ll die like this,” said Fernandez, “But if so–that would be unfair.”
The missing nationals are from four countries in South America. Argentina, Paraguay, Venezuela, and Uruguay have all reported 22 citizens who were unaccounted for due to the collapse of a building in Sao Paulo Brazil yesterday morning. Foreign ministries and consulates around the world are working hard with Brazilian authorities to account for these people as quickly as possible so that they can be reunited with their families back home.
Israeli media say that 20 citizens of the country are still missing and have begun their search by questioning Israelis with Miami connections. One such person is Arnie Notkin, a retired elementary school physical education teacher who lived on the third floor of this building when he disappeared during Hurricane Irma last week.
“Everyone’s been posting, ‘Oh my God, he was my coach,’” said Fortuna Smukler, a friend who turned to Facebook in hopes of finding someone who would report them safe.
“They were also such happy, joyful people. He always had a story to tell, and she always spoke so kindly of my mother,” Smukler said. “Originally there were rumors that he had been found, but it was a case of mistaken identity. It would be a miracle if they’re found alive.”
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