Florida Governor Ron DeSantis tried to stress that authorities still have hope they may find survivors of Wednesday night’s shocking building collapse near Miami, telling reporters in a press conference Thursday morning that “we still have hope.”
DeSantis gave an update on search and rescue efforts in Surfside, Florida, during a press conference at Hillsborough Community College Thursday morning, telling reporters that first responders are still hopeful that there will be more people pulled alive from the rubble of the Champlain Towers condominiums.
“I just want to thank everybody who responded to the condo collapse down in Surfside, and we had a major, major structure and one side of it collapsed in the wee hours of the morning,” DeSantis said, according to the Miami Herald.“We still have hope to be able to identify additional survivors”
DeSantis did say that he and his team were “bracing for some bad news” “given the destruction that we’re seeing.”
“The first responders were able to save a lot of people. They are going to be going through more and, you know, it’s a really, really tragic situation so we’ll hope for the best in terms of additional recoveries, although we are bracing for some bad news just given the destruction that we’re seeing.”
Authorities told the media that 35 people were pulled from the collapsed 12-story building early Thursday morning, including a young boy whose recovery is being hailed as a “miracle rescue.” So far, just one person is confirmed dead, but officials warned Thursday that time could be running out to find survivors.
According to the latest numbers, 99 people remain unaccounted for in the collapse. (Update: As of Friday morning, the Miami-Dade Mayor says that 159 people remain unaccounted for.) Officials are asking anyone who lives at the towers and might be among the missing to visit select locations and file a “wellness report” so that search and rescue teams have a clearer objective.
Related: Death Toll Rises In Condo Collapse; Number Of Missing Persons Grows To 159
CNN posted aerial footage of the damage to Twitter Thursday showing nearly half of the building — 55 of the tower’s 130 condominiums — almost fully destroyed.
Authorities in South Florida were responding early Thursday to a "partial building collapse," the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue said. The scene is in Surfside, a few miles north of Miami Beach. https://t.co/1mZcItXpzS pic.twitter.com/vz9LV40Ipt
— CNN (@CNN) June 24, 2021
Miami residents also posted photos depicting the damage, showing part of the building in pile of rubble.
For some perspective on the Miami Beach building collapse, everything to the left of the red line is gone. pic.twitter.com/NaXXYm9jfO
— Tony Pascarella (@tonypascarella) June 24, 2021
Surfside, Florida, Mayor Charles Burkett called the collapse a “tragedy beyond our imagination” on Fox News Thursday and warned that, despite search and rescue teams’ optimism, “the worst” is likely “yet to come.”
“We got the call at about 2:00 this morning and we came out and we’ve got a modern building that just collapsed. A large modern building, 12 stories, 130-unit condominium on the ocean just collapsed, it looks like there was an earthquake, it’s inexplicable and we are all scratching our heads trying to figure out what the problem is,” Burkett told the network. “We’ve got a tragedy here that’s beyond any of our imagination. We’ve got 15 families out this morning in the middle of the night, we’ve got a third or more of the building that collapsed like a pancake that I don’t even want to think about what we’d find in that area.”
Families who lived on the upper floors of the building fared better, Burkett said, telling Fox that some residents “were able to walk out on their own.”
President Joe Biden also weighed in on the collapse on Thursday, expressing his concern for Florida officials and offering help.
“All of our hearts go out to the family and friends who have lost their beloved during this horrific incident, as well as to the families who wait in anguish as search-and-rescue teams assess and work through the devastation,’’ a White House spokesperson said in a statement. “In coordination with FEMA, the White House is continuing to monitor the situation and we send our gratitude to the heroic first responders working tirelessly to save lives today.”