Miami firefighters drill through basement of flattened condo as DeSantis orders state of emergency amid desperate search

MIAMI firefighters drilled through the basement of a flattened condo on Thursday as Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered a state of emergency amid a desperate search for survivors.

Footage of firefighters in the flooded Miami Beach apartment basement showed first responders desperately searching for the 99 people missing.

Read our Miami Beach building collapse live blog for the very latest news and updates…

Footage of firefighters in the flooded Miami Beach apartment basement showed first responders desperately searching for survivors

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Footage of firefighters in the flooded Miami Beach apartment basement showed first responders desperately searching for survivorsCredit: Reuters
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis looks upset after meeting with residents of an apartment building which partially collapsed in Surfside

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Florida Governor Ron DeSantis looks upset after meeting with residents of an apartment building which partially collapsed in SurfsideCredit: Rex
Rescue teams with the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue were seen drilling through concrete under the collapsed Champlain Towers

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Rescue teams with the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue were seen drilling through concrete under the collapsed Champlain TowersCredit: Reuters
A total of 55 apartments collapsed

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A total of 55 apartments collapsedCredit: Reuters
An apartment block collapsed near Miami beach on Thursday morning

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An apartment block collapsed near Miami beach on Thursday morningCredit: Twitter / @CheechDad09

Rescue teams with the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue were seen drilling through concrete under the collapsed Champlain Towers, in a video shared to Twitter, which obtained at least 177,000 as of 11.30pm on Thursday.

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue shared the footage in a tweet that read: “#MDFR #TRT & #FLTF1 are working in the basement parking garage at Champlain Towers.

“Firefighters continue working on locating possible victims, while dealing with heavy damage and changing conditions in the parking garage. #SurfsideBuildingCollapse”

Jersey City Fire Chief Steven McGill spoke with ABC7 about what rescue crews in Florida are working with.

McGill told the news outlet: “They’re probably still doing some selective debris removal, they’re definitely tunneling in to where voids are and shoring them up as they go, they may have to breach walls where they’re going in to reach people, they may have to cut walls or floors open.

“It’s a very labor-intensive operation, you’re constantly monitoring the air for any hazmats that may be there.”

Officials revealed in a Thursday night press conference that rescue and search activity will be ongoing.

“The dogs are working on the garage, they’re working on the top so they are visible right now. They are proceeding with all of their might,” Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said at the news conference.

Cava announced on Twitter that DeSantis, who toured the horrific scene on Thursday afternoon, signed an executive order declaring a state of emergency for Miami-Dade County to quickly obtain federal disaster assistance.

Officials revealed in a Thursday night press conference that rescue and search activity will be ongoing

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Officials revealed in a Thursday night press conference that rescue and search activity will be ongoingCredit: AFP
Footage captured rescue workers drilling in the basement of the collapsed building

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Footage captured rescue workers drilling in the basement of the collapsed buildingCredit: Reuters

Earlier in the day, Miami-Dade Police Director Freddy Ramirez described the collapse site as “very dangerous” and “very unstable.”

“They’re in search-and-rescue mode, and they will be in that mode for a while. They are not quitting. They’re going to work through the night. They are not stopping,” Ramirez added, according to the Associated Press.

“I don’t want to set false expectations. This is a very tragic situation for those families and for the community.”

The shocking moment the apartment building in Miami Beach collapsed was also caught on camera.

The devastating incident left at least one person dead and 99 others reported missing — and the cause of the 40-year-old high-rise building’s collapse remains unknown.

Dozens were pulled from the block as around 80 emergency crews and five state agencies responded to the incident in Surfside from around 1.30am on Thursday, while 102 people have been accounted for.

A firefighter rescued a little boy from the rubble

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A firefighter rescued a little boy from the rubbleCredit: NBC6
A large portion of the apartment blocked collapsed

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A large portion of the apartment blocked collapsedCredit: AP
It's not known if the building was fully occupied

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It’s not known if the building was fully occupiedCredit: AP
Footage shows the moment the apartment collapsed

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Footage shows the moment the apartment collapsedCredit: Twitter

Footage shows a large section of the apartment building, called Champlain Towers South, that had collapsed into a pile of rubble near Collins Avenue on 88th Street, NBC Miami reported.

The fire department said this evening that out of the 37 pulled from the rubble and out of the 11 people injured, four patients were “transported,” adding that they were placing solar devices and cameras to locate victims.

Firefighters heard banging under the rubble but not distinguishable voices as the wreckage probe continues.

Engineers will be determining what caused the disaster when the search and rescue effort concludes.

Officials confirmed that 55 apartments caved in, causing multiple injuries as 35 people were pulled from the wreckage, with 10 injured, and two hospitalized – one of whom passed away.

Fire Rescue Assistant Chief Ray Jadallah said they heard sounds from under the rubble and that “all operations are occurring underneath” it. 

What we know so far:

“They are occurring underneath the parking garage where we have teams of firefighters constantly as they continue making cuts, breaches and placing sonar devices, search cams to locate victims,” he said.

“We did receive sounds. Not necessarily people talking, but sounds. What sounds like people banging, not people but sounds of a possibility of a banging. We haven’t heard any voices coming from the pile.”

Local media reported that at least one person died and that a firefighter was among those injured, but others have noted that the death toll is expected to rise.

Ron DeSantis said camera crews didn't fully capture the trauma of the event as he toured the site

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Ron DeSantis said camera crews didn’t fully capture the trauma of the event as he toured the siteCredit: AFP
A search and rescue operation is still underway

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A search and rescue operation is still underwayCredit: AP
So far, 37 people have been hoisted up from the rubble and 11 were injured

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So far, 37 people have been hoisted up from the rubble and 11 were injuredCredit: Getty

On Thursday afternoon, officials said dozens were still missing for following the accident after multiple apartments collapsed and firefighters were still frantically searching the debris for survivors as of 1pm ET.

Speaking about the tragedy, President Joe Biden said: “We’re waiting for the Governor to declare an emergency… as we learn what might happen to [the] rest of the building.

“We are ready to move with federal resources immediately,” he added. “Whatever help you want, just ask us, we will be there.”

It’s not known what caused part of the apartment block to fall to the ground and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis was briefed on the situation and confirmed there would be an investigation into the cause.

He said he hoped to identify “more survivors” as Kevin Guthrie of the Florida Division of Emergency Management confirmed that five agencies were “assisting local, county, and city government” in the rescue efforts.

Mayor of Miami-Dade County Daniella Cava and Surfside Mayor Charles W. Burkett also addressed reporters this afternoon as Burkett described waking up to “something like I could never believe.”

Fire and Rescue teams patrol the scene in Miami

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Fire and Rescue teams patrol the scene in MiamiCredit: EPA
'Everyone who is alive is out of the building', Frank Rollason said

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‘Everyone who is alive is out of the building’, Frank Rollason saidCredit: EPA
Two people were rescued from the rubble

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Two people were rescued from the rubbleCredit: EPA
At least 35 people were dragged from the building

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At least 35 people were dragged from the buildingCredit: Splash

Earlier, Burkett said “it looked like a bomb went off” as worried family members flock to the scene holding photos of missing family members on Thursday afternoon, reported WSVN.

He said: “The problem is the building has literally pancaked … It’s heartbreaking because it doesn’t mean, to me, that we’re going to be successful, as successful as we want to be, to find people alive.

“There’s no reason for this building to go down like that unless someone literally pulls out the supports from underneath, or they get washed out or there’s a sinkhole …

“It’s less likely than a lightning strike. It just doesn’t happen. You don’t see buildings falling down in America, and here we had a building literally falling down.”

Emergency services were forced to set up a reunification center in the search for missing family members, while Miami-Dade Fire and Rescue (MDFR) said “the search and rescue efforts are ongoing” hours after the incident.

Aerial footage shows the extent of the devastation

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Aerial footage shows the extent of the devastation
Emergency crews pictured working at the scene in Miami

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Emergency crews pictured working at the scene in MiamiCredit: Reuters

Despite the “inclement weather,” the Incident Command “continued to coordinate operations of the search and rescue efforts at Champlain Towers” this afternoon, MDFR said.

DeSantis said that hotels and accommodation would be organized for displaced residents, which Cava said was in a “predominantly Jewish community.”

Cava confirmed Biden has offered his full support during the tragedy: “He offered the full support of the federal govrnment to help our community during this difficult time,” Cava tweeted.

“We continue to work with local, state, & federal agencies as we respond to this tragedy and do everything we can to support the impacted families,” she added after telling reporters “people are in despair.”

Officials confirmed during a press conference on Thursday morning that two people were pulled from the rubble, and another 35 from the building itself.

The director of the Miami-Dade Emergency Management, Frank Rollason, said that workers believe they have cleared all survivors from inside of the tower.

He told the Miami Herald: “Everyone who is alive is out of the building.

Crews help one resident to safety

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Crews help one resident to safetyCredit: AFP
A bunk bed is among the wreckage in the apartment

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A bunk bed is among the wreckage in the apartmentCredit: Reuters
Cops work close to the scene in Miami Beach

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Cops work close to the scene in Miami BeachCredit: EPA
A Level 5 mass casualty event was declared meaning statewide resources were required

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A Level 5 mass casualty event was declared meaning statewide resources were requiredCredit: Getty Images – Getty
Witnesses reportedly heard screams from the rubble

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Witnesses reportedly heard screams from the rubbleCredit: Twitter / @CheechDad09

Crews have confirmed that people are trapped under the rubble but the number remains unknown.

Video shows a little boy being pulled from the wreckage by a firefighter.

Miami Dade authorities declared a “Level 5” mass casualty event meaning statewide emergency resources are required, according to reports.

One witness, who was in a neighboring building, said the collapse felt like a “tornado or earthquake”.

He told Fox News: “It was the craziest thing I ever heard in my life.”

Fire crews search underneath the rubble looking for survivors

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Fire crews search underneath the rubble looking for survivorsCredit: AP
K-9 teams search the wreckage of the apartment

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K-9 teams search the wreckage of the apartmentCredit: Getty
Rescue teams from Broward County were drafted in to assist with the investigation

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Rescue teams from Broward County were drafted in to assist with the investigationCredit: Getty
Search and rescue teams have reportedly left the building amid concerns about its structure

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Search and rescue teams have reportedly left the building amid concerns about its structureCredit: AP
The mayor of Miami-Dade county thanked first responders on the ground

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The mayor of Miami-Dade county thanked first responders on the groundCredit: Reuters

Kimberly Morales told CNN that she was woken up by an alarm and residents knocking on her door.

Footage uploaded to social media appears to show debris falling from the ceiling of a resident’s apartment.

It’s reported that the building’s foundations still continue to shake – hours after the accident happened.

Crews successfully managed to rescue some residents from their balconies but rescue teams have left the structure due to concerns over the integrity of the building.

Fire crews are on the scene rescuing people from the rubble

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Fire crews are on the scene rescuing people from the rubbleCredit: Twitter/jweinsierWPLG

Mayor Burkett confirmed that roofing works had been going on for at least 30 days.

Daniella Levine Cava, mayor of Miami-Dade County, tweeted: “My prayers are with all those impacted by this horrific tragedy and with their families.

“We are so grateful to @MiamiDadeFire, @MiamiBeachFire, and all the first responders on the scene – may they stay safe while working to save lives.”

One witness said the collapse 'felt like a tornado'

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One witness said the collapse ‘felt like a tornado’Credit: ViralPress
Miami Dade authorities have reportedly declared a Level 5 incident

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Miami Dade authorities have reportedly declared a Level 5 incidentCredit: ViralPress
Rescue operations continue - hours after the accident

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Rescue operations continue – hours after the accidentCredit: EPA
Crews rescued residents from apartment balconies

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Crews rescued residents from apartment balconiesCredit: EPA

George Takai, who played Mr Sulu in Star Trek, said: “Just seeing news of the partial collapse of a residential building in Miami.

“My thoughts are with the families and loved ones of the victims and with the heroic emergency responders, who even now just pulled a boy from the rubble. America is united in our grief and shock.”

Florida’s First Lady Casey DeSantis tweeted: “Our hearts go out to those involved in the partial building collapse in Surfside, we are closely monitoring the situation.

“Thanks to our brave first responders currently on the scene – if you have loved ones who are unaccounted for or are safe, please call (305) 614-1819.”

Miami Beach Police tweeted: “MBPD and @MiamiBeachFire are assisting the Town of Surfside at a partial building collapse located at 8777 Collins Avenue in Surfside, Florida.

“Multiple police and fire agencies from across Miami-Dade are assisting.”

Champlain Towers was built in 1981 and has over 130 residences.

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