A multistory residential building in Surfside, Florida, partially collapsed, killing at least 1, mayor says

Authorities in South Florida responded to a "partial building collapse" early Thursday morning, the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue said. CNN's Leyla Santiago reports.

Posted: Jun 24, 2021 8:54 AM


A multistory residential building partially collapsed early Thursday in the South Florida community of Surfside, killing at least one person and raising fears that others may be trapped under the rubble.

The collapse happened around 2 a.m. ET. Video from the scene shows a side of the building -- more than 10 stories tall -- having fallen, with huge piles of rubble underneath and a large number of first responders.

Rescuers assisted at least one person from the debris field, and helped others leave the standing portions of the building, sometimes using a bucket atop a fire truck's ladder.

One person there has died, and at least 10 others were treated on the scene, Surfside Mayor Charles W. Burkett said.

"This is a horrific catastrophe. In the United States, buildings just don't fall down," Burkett said.

Rescue teams scrambled to the scene -- 8777 Collins Avenue -- a few miles north of Miami Beach. More than 80 rescue units responded, Miami-Dade Fire Rescue said.

Kimberly Morales told CNN she lives in the building across the street from the collapse and was awakened by alarms going off and pounding on her door.

"I woke everyone up in the room because when I looked out the window, I saw everyone outside," she told CNN. "I told everyone to hurry up and leave the building."

Morales said she didn't hear the collapse but when she went outside, she saw a significant portion of the building was missing. She's now in a community center with other evacuees, she said.

The building was undergoing roof work, but it's unknown whether this was a factor in the collapse, the mayor said.

Survivor helped from rubble

Video captured by ReliableNewsMedia shows rescuers helping a survivor out of the rubble.

The survivor was spotted as firefighters in yellow or red hard hats climbed around the vast pile of twisted metal and and building material.

A rescuer reached an arm under what looked like a collapsed wall, its reinforced metal bars now pointing skyward, to help the survivor, who was wearing a dark shirt and pajama pants.

The survivor slowly leaned over, laying their body over a rescuer's right shoulder and draping their legs over the bigger person's chest, the ReliableNewsMedia video shows. Then, the survivor was lowered onto a white stretcher and helped the rescue team secure orange straps. The team carried the person away.

Shortly after that, at least six stories up, a trio of survivors and what looked like a dog climbed from a balcony into the bucket atop a fire truck's elevated ladder. The bucket then slowly descended.

'We just see a cloud of dust coming our way'

Shmuel Balkany was on a walk with his brothers and dog when "we hear a really big rumble," he told ReliableNewsMedia.

"And we think that it was a motorcycle -- like, classic, early in the morning -- and we turn around and we just see a cloud of dust coming our way. And we're just like, what is going on? So we, like, we start rushing towards there. We pull our shirts over our face so we don't get any, like, dust, in our eyes and everything."

"What we saw from the beginning was a huge cloud of smoke and a lot of noise," added Mich Balkany, who was also on the walk, ReliableNewsMedia reported.

"We saw this happen. It was by far the most horrific thing that I've seen. I was alive for 9/11. I didn't see that happen in real life. I saw something like this happen and it's the closest thing that I can relate to 9/11," Mich Balkany said. "This is something that is absolutely insane ... insane, insane, insane, insane."

Added Shmuel Balkany: "We have friends who have family that live in the building. We don't even know if they're OK. Some of them are OK. We don't know if the rest are OK."

"It's very shocking. We're shook. We're pretty shook. It's not, like, processing in our minds yet," Shmuel Balkany said.

David Shaw was visiting from Alabama when "the building next door to us fell down," he told ReliableNewsMedia.

"The building shook, and then I looked out the window. You couldn't see. I thought it was, like, a storm or something coming in," he said. "When the dust cleared, the back ... two-thirds of the building was gone, it was down to the ground."

Fire department personnel soon knocked on Shaw's door, telling him to evacuate. "So we just got our stuff together and left," he said, then walked away rolling a suitcase and carrying two luggage bags.

As first responders scoured the scene, a line of showers and storms was heading west toward the coastal Miami area Thursday morning, which could impact search and rescue activity.

Showers were possible through the morning.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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