June 25 (Reuters) – The death toll from the collapse of an oceanfront apartment block in Miami has risen to three, ABC News reported, and nearly 100 people went missing as rescue workers continued their search for survivors in the rubble.
US President Joe Biden approved a declaration of emergency in the state of Florida and ordered federal aid to supplement state and local response efforts.
“The action of the president authorizes the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to coordinate all disaster relief efforts,” said the White House on Friday.
Rescue workers searched tons of rubble and looked for survivors on Thursday. Continue reading
Search teams discovered pops and other noises, but no voices from the wreckage, hours after a large portion of the Champlain Towers South condominium fell to the ground in Surfside, an island town across from Biscayne Bay, authorities said.
Footage captured by a surveillance camera nearby showed that an entire side of the building collapsed in two sections, raising clouds of dust at around 1:30 a.m. (0530 GMT) Thursday.
What caused the 40-year-old skyscraper to collapse in seconds was not immediately known, although local officials said the 12-story tower was undergoing roof construction and other repairs.
Miami-Dade County’s Mayoress Daniella Levine Cava told reporters Thursday that 99 people were missing for about 18 hours after the collapse, although some may not have been in the building at the time.
Another 102 people, whose whereabouts were initially unknown, have since been found and “declared safe,” she said.
A fire officer previously said that 35 people had been evacuated from the stalled portion of the skyscraper and response teams used in the search with trained dogs and drones pulled two people out of the rubble. One of them was dead.
ABC News later reported, citing a district official, that at least three people had died in the disaster.
Officials said the complex, built in 1981, is undergoing a recertification process that requires repairs, with another building being built on an adjacent site.
The Champlain Towers South had more than 130 units, of which about 80 were occupied. Surfside commissioner Charles Kesl told Local 10 that it had recently undergone various inspections due to the recertification process and the adjacent building structure.
Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Editing by Jacqueline Wong
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