Earlier on Thursday, the ocean side of a waterfront apartment building in Surfside in the Miami area collapsed. Residents were trapped in rubble and twisted metal, and a cloud of debris was scattered throughout the community.
Dozens of rescue units rushed to the partially collapsed building and saw firefighters rescue survivors from the concrete debris.
In a tweet, Miami-Dade police stated that one person was killed in the collapse.
Santo Mejil, 50, told the Miami Herald that his wife called him in the building, where she worked as an assistant for an elderly woman.
“She said she heard a huge explosion. It felt like an earthquake,” Megal told the newspaper. He said she later called him and said that rescuers were taking her down.
The authorities do not have detailed information on the number of casualties or how many people lived in the building.
Miami Dade Fire Rescue is conducting a search and rescue operation, and said in a tweet, “With the assistance of the municipal fire department, there are more than 80 units at the scene.”
“We are on the scene, so it is still very active,” said Sargent Marian Cruz of the Surfside Police Department. “What I can tell you is that this building has 12 floors. The entire back of the building collapsed.”
Victor Cohen, who lives nearby, told TV station WPLG that the building was undergoing major renovations when the ocean front wing “collapsed like a pancake.”
The firefighter team went through the rubble, picked up the survivors and lifted them out of the wreckage.
The collapse left many units in the still standing part of the building exposed. The TV screen showed that there were still bunk beds, tables and chairs in the damaged apartment. The air-conditioning unit is suspended in some parts of the building, and the wires are now suspended there.
The police blocked the nearby roads and dozens of fire and rescue vehicles, ambulances and police cars poured into the area.
The collapsed debris covered a thin layer of dust on the car two blocks away.
Photos and videos at the scene show that the collapse affected half of the tower. Piles of rubble and debris surrounded the area outside the building. The department has not yet explained what might have caused the crash.
The sea view condominium development project was built in 1981 and is located on the beach at the southeast corner of Surfside. There are currently several two-bedroom units on the market with asking prices ranging from $600,000 to $700,000.
The area is a mixture of old and new apartments, houses, apartments and hotels, with restaurants and shops serving international residents and tourists. The neighborhood contrasts sharply with the hustle and bustle of South Beach and has a slower-paced neighborhood feel.