SURFSIDE, FLA. (WSVN) - Just over 48 hours after the catastrophic collapse of a Surfside apartment complex, several people are still looking for answers.
Early Friday morning, Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava confirmed the death count had reached a total of four. At least 35 people were rescued but 159 remain unaccounted for. She also said 120 people have been accounted for.
“We all want answers. We all need answers,” Levine Cava said. “We never want this to happen again.”
By Saturday morning, the numbers remained the same.
WATCH: Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava Saturday morning interview:
WATCH: Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett Saturday morning interview:
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has signed an executive order declaring a State of Emergency, and President Joe Biden has authorized FEMA to support the area.
“We don’t have a resource problem. We don’t have a manpower problem. We really have a luck problem,” said Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett. “As you can see, it’s starting to rain again, and that just makes it more difficult, but that’s OK. We just keep going. We’ve got crew after crew after crew, they keep bringing in new crews, fresh crews, and they keep doing the job that needs to be done. We’re just full speed ahead, get it done, save lives, period.”
Rescue efforts are expected to take days as emergency crews continue their search through the rubble.
“This work is being done at extreme risk to these individuals,” said Levine Cava. “Debris is falling on them as they do their work. We have structural engineers on site to assure that they will not be injured, but they are proceeding because they are so motivated, and they are taking extraordinary risk.”
The search for survivors at what’s left of the Champlain Towers South Condo has not stopped. Crews have been working around several fires that have ignited due to the collapse.
“The fire is deeply-seated, deeply-rooted under the structure, so you’ve seen it in and out, and unfortunately, having flare-ups of it,” Miami-Dade Fire Chief Alan Cominsky said.
7SkyForce hovered over the scene where firefighters could be seen placing debris in buckets. They have been using sonar and dogs to aid in their search for survivors, even though thunderstorms have passed over the area.
“We are listening for sounds,” Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Chief Ray Jadallah said. “It’s not specifically human sounds. It could be tapping. It could be steel kind of twisting. It could be debris raining down.”
“They did hear some tapping,” Dr. Howard Lieberman, a trauma surgeon at Jackson Health, said. “There was some noise. It kept up for a while, and then, over the course of the day, that dissipated.”
The northeast corner of the condo collapsed at around 1:30 a.m., Thursday while residents were sleeping. The collapse prompted the response of several rescue crews around the county.
The first deceased victim has been identified as 54-year-old Stacie Fang. Her family has asked reporters to not show photos of her at this time.
Heavy machinery has since been brought in to remove pieces of the building that remains standing and the larger pieces of debris on the ground. The removal of debris from the building will allow crews to search deeper into the rubble.
“It’s incredibly moving to be on site with the safety personnel, fire rescue,” said Levine Cava. “They are totally, totally motivated to find people. They have to be pulled off the shift. That is how motivated they are to continue their efforts.”
In the meantime, family and friends are holding onto hope that their loved ones survived the collapse and are waiting to be rescued.
Officials said nothing matters more than accounting for the dozens of people who are missing. They said search and rescue efforts will continue around the clock, but they cautioned that it could take days.
Florida Task Force 2, led by MDFR, has since responded to the scene to help.
“We will not stop. We will keep going. We will do everything we can. We have unlimited resources here, we’ve got the White House, we’ve got our senators, we’ve got our governor, we’ve got our congress people, and we’ve got the Dade County mayor,” said Burkett. “We don’t have a limitation of resources. We just need a little luck.”
Those who have missing loved ones should visit the Family Reunification Center, located at the Grand Beach Hotel Surfside at 9449 Collins Ave., or call 305-614-1819.
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