At least one person is confirmed to have died and several are injured following the partial collapse of a multi-storey residential building in Miami on Thursday. A major search and rescue operation is still taking place at the site of the collapse, with survivors thought to be trapped under the rubble, according to reports.
Surfside mayor Charles W Burkett told CNN’s Leyla Santiago that there had been at least one fatality due to the incident in Surfside, Florida – a person who was pronounced deceased at the hospital. CBS Miami said the person who died was a woman, and that a boy of about 10 years of age was pulled out alive from under the rubble.
“This is a horrific catastrophe. In the United States, buildings just don’t fall down,” Mr Burkett told CNN.
Miami-Dade county mayor Daniella Levine Cava tweeted: “My prayers are with all those impacted by this horrific tragedy and with their families. We are so grateful to @MiamiDadeFire, @MiamiBeachFire and all the first responders on the scene – may they stay safe while working to save lives.”
Resident Kimberly Morales, who lives in the building across the street, told CNN that she had asked “everyone to hurry up and leave the building.”
The Miami-Dade fire and rescue department earlier said it had sent more than 80 units to the scene, with assistance from municipal fire departments.
It said that a media staging area at a field near 86 Street and Collins Avenue had been set up.
“Miami-Dade Fire Rescue is on scene, they’re conducting rescues as we speak,” said Sgt Marian Cruz of Surfside Police, according to NBC Miami. “It’s a very active scene. I advise everyone to just stay out of the area so that fire rescue and officers can conduct rescues and do what we need to do,” she continued.
It was reported that residents were being moved to the Surfside Community Centre, and that streets in the area were closed.
Images from the scene showed a side of the building completely collapsed in a huge pile of debris, with police cars pulled up and fire trucks gathered in the street below, lights flashing.
“The whole building shook like an earthquake. I opened my sliding glass and I saw a plume of dust and then I opened the door and I saw that the building had pancaked in the back,” a woman who lives on the ninth floor told Local10 News.
The Miami Beach Police Department also tweeted that they and the Miami Beach Fire Department and Ocean Rescue are assisting the town of Surfside in the rescue operation. There is no confirmation yet of how many people are trapped inside the building.
Miami-based journalist Joel Franco, who was at the scene, tweeted that urban search and rescue trucks were coming in to look for survivors.
“Some of these people were just rescued from the Surfside condo building that’s partially collapsed,” he tweeted.
Mail Online reported that the building was an eleven-storey apartment block called Champlain Towers South, and that it was not yet known what had caused the collapse.
“It looks like power has been cut for a portion of the area near the partial collapse,” Mr Franco said. Katie Daviscourt, a journalist with The Post Millennial, shared a video from the collapse site and said: “Miami/Dade Fire and Rescue team searching for bodies. This is horrific.”
For more details on the incident follow our live blog here.