Gov. Ron DeSantis rushed Thursday to the site of a condominium tower collapse in South Florida that at last word had resulted in one death, although officials acknowledged that number likely will climb.
“It’s a tragic day,” the governor said. “We still have hope to be able to identify additional survivors.”
He added: “The TV doesn’t do it justice. I mean, it is really, really traumatic to see the collapse of a massive structure like that.”
“We will be here as long as we need to be,” Kevin Guthrie, director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management, said during the press briefing.
One wing of the beachside Champlain Towers South Condo containing 55 units in Surfside crumbled early in the morning, according to published reports including this from the Miami Herald. Rescuers had pulled out 35 survivors, the newspaper said.
Fire and rescue teams “are in search and rescue mode. They are trying to identify survivors. I know they have made contact with some, and they are doing everything they can to save lives,” DeSantis said.
He said his next stop would be a site where survivors are receiving Red Cross and local government assistance.
There’s still no explanation for the disaster, but engineers will seek answers, DeSantis said.
“You’re not going to have those answers immediately, but I know that they are going to diligently be working to be able to do that.”
Agencies involved with the response include the state fire marshal service, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, medical workers, and the Department of Transportation, Guthrie said.
Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said search and rescue dogs were on the scene and “were able to rescue so many from the buildings,” although she didn’t provide a number. Local governments across the region are assisting, she added.
A hot line is available for news of survivors or for people to share information: 305-614-1819.
“There’s not a lot little Surfside can do except ring the alarm bell,” said Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett. “And we rang the alarm bell, and Mayor Cava sent the cavalry, as did the governor.”