Here’s What We Know About The Surfside Building Collapse: 4 Dead, 159 People Missing
Search and rescue efforts continue in Surfside, just north of Miami Beach, after the partial collapse of a 12-story building early Thursday morning.
Search and rescue efforts continue in Surfside after the partial collapse of a 12-story building early Thursday morning.
As of Friday morning, officials have confirmed that at least four people are dead, dozens have been rescued, 120 people have been accounted for and 159 people have been reported as missing.
WLRN is committed to providing the trusted news and local reporting you rely on. Please keep WLRN strong with your support today. Donate now. Thank you.
Fire and rescue officials said about 55 apartment units were destroyed by the collapse, which happened on the northeast side of the Champlain Towers South building. The complex houses more than 136 units.
Here’s what we know about the situation. This post will be updated.
What’s the latest on the response effort?
Miami-Dade County launched an emergency response page after the collapse here. And a Family Reunification Center has been established near the collapse site — at the Surfside Community Center.
Friends and loved ones looking for family members or friends can go to the center or are asked to call 305-614-1819. An emergency hotline was also established at 305-993-1071.
And residents of the tower are being asked to complete this form to help with accounting for additional missing people.
Within Surfside, several services have been impacted:
The town's community center, tennis center and Hawthorne Tot Lot were closed Thursday. The town's PEAR Summer Camp was also canceled for the day. Surfside's scheduled planning and zoning board meeting was also canceled.
All events at the community center have been canceled through, at least, July 6.
The town's Sunday farmers market and a LGBTQ+ Pride event set for Saturday, June 26, have both been canceled. And a pop-up vaccination event set for Sunday, June 27, has been postponed until further notice.
Surfside officials aren't currently seeking donations or volunteers for recovery efforts but if, or when, they become necessary you can fill out this volunteer form and someone from the town will contact you.
How can I support the victims?
We've created this post with a roundup of organizations and individuals offering support to victims. We'll continue to update it with additional information.
What's the scene like at the Surfside Community Center?
Many family members and friends are trying to locate missing people that were in the tower.
Soraya Cohen was looking for her husband, Dr. Brad Cohen, an orthopedic surgeon. He was staying at an apartment on the tenth floor of the building. She says a family friend saw the news at 3 a.m. and started texting him.
"We can't find him. He hasn't responded for 15 hours," she said.
Cohen said the hardest part of the day so far was seeing her 12-year-old daughter's trauma.
"She's, like, in absolute absolute shock. I woke her up, running into the room like, 'Oh my gosh, you know, the building collapsed and daddy's in there and nobody can find him. Hurry, wake up, we've got to get to the Surfside Community Center,'" she said.
Cohen said she was praying her husband was in a hospital and hadn't been identified yet. She was showing the media at the reunification center photos of him and his brother, who was also in the apartment.
"And if anybody Jewish is listening, please pray for him," she said. "His Hebrew name is Yaskov Reuvein HaCohen ben Devorah."
Also, outside the center, as weary family members and first responders worked and waited for more information, a Ms. Cheezious food truck handed out sandwiches to those who needed something to eat — in partnership with the World Central Kitchen.
When did the collapse happen?
Miami-Dade Fire Rescue responded to the call at about 1:30 a.m. at the Champlain Towers building, at 8777 Collins Ave., and began search and rescue efforts in tandem with other law enforcement and emergency response agencies.
The response has continued since then with local elected officials providing updates and announcing the creation of the reunification center.
Was work happening at the building?
Surfside officials, including Vice Mayor Tina Paul, said Thursday morning that the town was in the process of reviewing what structural improvements, if any, the building's 40-year re-certification recommended. The re-certification is required by Miami-Dade County code for any buildings that are 40 years old. And those structural improvements may have included concrete restoration, as some of the building’s residents have reported.
“That I cannot confirm. I mean, usually a 40-year restoration does involve concrete restoration. So – most likely," Paul said.
The Champlain Towers South building was also having its roof reconstructed. The vice mayor also could not confirm reports about some residents' concerns over the heavy weight of roofing materials being placed on top of the complex’s northeast quadrant — the portion that collapsed early Thursday morning.
“All I can say for certain is that they were doing a new roof. I do know that there was an issue with the tar going by people’s windows. But I hadn’t heard anything more," she said.
Paul said much more information about the Champlain’s 40-year inspection will be coming soon from Surfside building officials.
WLRN spoke with John Pistorino the engineer who created the recertification program in 1974, you can find that story here.
How many people have been impacted?
The total amount remains unclear but at least four people have died. The collapse impacted 55 apartment units, dozens have been rescued from the rubble, and 120 people have been accounted for as of Friday morning. Nearly 160 people are still missing.
As part of the rescue efforts, FPL shut down electricity for nearby equipment which impacted 294 customers.
What’s happening near the scene?
Traffic is still shut down in the area near the collapse — both northbound Collins Avenue between 85th and 96th Streets and southbound Harding Avenue between the same two streets.
The Miami Beach trolley system is also not serving stops north of 85th Street.
Copyright 2021 WLRN 91.3 FM. To see more, visit WLRN 91.3 FM.