SURFSIDE, FLA. (WSVN) - First responders continue to sift through a massive pile of rubble in order to find survivors of the partial collapse of a condominium building in Surfside.
Between 60 and 70 Miami-Dade Fire Rescue crews continue to work in tandem with Urban Search & Rescue on Thursday with a clear mission and goal.
“That’s what what we do: we save people, so we are definitely working to try to save as many as we possibly can,” said MDFR spokesperson Maggie Castro.
“We’ll be working throughout the night, continue our seach-and-rescue efforts,” said MDFR Fire Chief Alan Cominsky.
Cellphone video captured signs of life and reminders of who lived in homes that came crashing down through all the concrete, metal and steel.
Thursday evening, video posted to Twitter by MDFR showed dozens of first responders as they searched for signs of life inside the South Tower’s basement parking garage.
“The level of exhaustion is enormous. As soon as they come out, they’re carrying 80 pounds worth of gear,” said Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis. “They’re carrying protective equipment. They’re carrying concrete stalls. Everything has to be [carried out] manually because of the sheer threat of a building that is unstable looming over them as they are crawling and tunneling under debris.”
Surfside residents woke up to see something far different than the postcard views they’re used to during their morning walks.
“I have a friend who lives in the building, He was trapped inside and was rescued by the police and by the firefighters,” said a woman.
Rescue crews and K-9 units looked for survivors.
“One hundred percent, we are in a rescue mission. We are working to find anyone that could be still be in that rubble pile,” said Castro.
During a news conference, MDFR Chief Ray Jadallah confirmed 35 people were pulled from the rubble alive.
“It’s a tremendous task that we’re all involved with right now, and while we’re putting the work on the ground, those families are suffering,” said Miami-Dade Police Director Alfredo Ramirez.
The task appears daunting, but for the skillful professionals deployed, it’s a scenario for which they are well trained.
Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava addressed search and rescue efforts during a news conference.
“We’re going to do everything we can possibly do to identify and rescue those who have been trapped in the rubble,” she said.
“We are thinking of them and their families, but we’re out there doing the best that we can, and we’re definitely out there working hard to rescue anyone that we can,” said Castro.
Thursday evening, MDFR officials said crews have had to contend with several fires that had broken out in the northern corner of the South Tower in the aftermath of the collapse.
Thursday night, Patronis took the opportunity to thank the first responders from all across the state who are working around the clock to find survivors.
“The best I’ve seen in humanity is what’s happening right behind me,” he said. “The task force from Tampa and St. Petersburg and Clearwater will be here. The task force from Jacksonville, they’re going to be coming to back up these guys so they get a bit of a break.”
The crews are working in shifts, and they will be relieved overnight and in the morning.
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