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Miami-area condo collapses in middle of the night, many feared trapped or dead in rubble

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A 12-story apartment building in Surfside, Florida near Miami Beach partially collapsed in the early hours of Thursday morning trapping an unknown number of people in the rubble. A massive search and rescue effort is now underway.

It is unknown how many people were in the building at the time of the collapse at approximately 1:20 a.m. and at least one person has allegedly perished from the tragedy so far. Reports are stating it was a woman. A firefighter was heard saying there are multiple casualties. Over 80 fire and rescue units were on the scene along with other agencies frantically pulling people from the rubble, CBS Miami reported.

A man who was on vacation and staying at a hotel next door to the one that collapsed said it felt like a tornado or an earthquake hit. He also stated that he thought that most of the building that collapsed was occupied. “It was the craziest thing I ever heard in my life,” he remarked. “The building – one of these huge buildings – gone! … The building – it’s gone. … The whole building’s gone. … Oh my gosh. This is the most insane thing I’ve ever seen in my life.”

“The building shook and then I looked out the window and you couldn’t see, I thought it was like a storm or something coming in. When the dust cleared, the back two-thirds of the building was gone, it was down to the ground,” he recounted.

Another witness also said he heard the collapse: “I was walking with my brothers, we were walking our dog in the neighborhood, and basically we heard a really big rumble and we thought it was a motorcycle, you know, and we turned around and saw a cloud of dust just coming our way. We were like what is going on,” he commented. “We went rushing toward it with shirts over our faces and the security guard came out and we were like what happened and she said the building collapsed.”

Also at the scene of the collapse was Joel Franco, who is a Miami-based freelance journalist. He live-tweeted from the scene of the catastrophe and posted a photo that shows approximately a dozen people who were rescued from the collapse. He noted: “This is tough to document.” Franco also reported: “I did see some family members being rescued by a crane from the Miami-Dade Fire Department.”

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue tweeted that the building is located near 8877 Collins Avenue. It is part of Champlain Towers which is an ocean-front condo that was constructed in 1981 and has over 100 units. Firefighters used truck-mounted ladders to reach individuals who were trapped on balconies. They also conducted a floor-by-floor search.

There is a heart-wrenching video of one boy being pulled from the rubble. Reports have also come in stating that at least nine people and a firefighter have been taken to the hospital. Witnesses claim that people could be heard screaming from underneath the rubble as rescuers frantically tried to get to them.

Technical Rescue Teams are on the scene. They are “specially trained in the treatment and removal of victims trapped in complex or confined spaces.”

This is a developing story.

(Video Credit: WPTV News – FL Palm Beaches and Treasure Coast)

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