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Florida condo collapse: Updates from Surfside

Officials say there are now 159 people unaccounted for and four people who have been confirmed dead.
This photo provided by Miami-Dade Fire Rescue, search and rescue personnel search for survivors through the rubble at the Champlain Towers South Condo in Surfside, Fla., section of Miami,  Friday, June 25, 2021. The apartment building partially collapsed on Thursday.
Published Jun. 25, 2021|Updated Jun. 26, 2021

The news out of South Florida became even more horribly grim today as officials announced that 159 people are now unaccounted for and the number of confirmed dead has risen to four.

There are a confirmed 120 people accounted for. Rescue crews will continue to search the rubble for survivors throughout the day.

Stacie Fang is the first victim identified by the Miami-Dade Medical Examiner’s office. Fang’s son was rescued from the rubble yesterday morning.

Miami-Dade County is asking anyone living at the Chaplain Tower to fill out a complete Wellness Check form. To notify officials if a loved one is safe or unaccounted for call 305-614-1819.

Meanwhile, President Joe Biden early Friday approved federal assistance as the rescue effort continues in Surfside.

The Tampa Bay Times will keep you updated on the latest from the tragedy. Our partners at the Miami Herald are working extremely hard to report the latest from the scene and you can follow the latest from them here as well.

Will Tampa Bay’s fire rescue assist in the search for survivors?

A call is likely Friday or Saturday that would deploy Urban Task Force 3, made up of Hillsborough, St. Petersburg and Tampa Fire Rescue teams.

Could this happen in the Tampa Bay area?

The collapse of a tall building like this is extremely rare. Our reporter Jay Cridlin, who covers economic development, asked a number or experts if something like this could ever happen to a building in the Tampa Bay area.

“We don’t know yet what caused it. Could be a gas explosion, could be a foundation failure. Could be any number of things,” one expert said. “We don’t know yet. But it’s disheartening for a building that has withstood hurricanes all these years to just collapse.”

Looking for ways to help?

A tragedy like this spurs people to want to reach out and help. But how do we do it? We have some answers here.

The American Red Cross is already involved in helping and local community organizations in Miami have created a hardship fund at supportsurfside.org.

Who lived in the condo?

Meanwhile, more information is coming out about who lived in the condo that collapsed.

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The Champlain Towers South drew people from around the globe to enjoy life on South Florida’s Atlantic Coast, some for a night, some to live. A couple from Argentina and their young daughter. A beloved retired Miami-area teacher and his wife. Orthodox Jews from Russia. Israelis. The sister of Paraguay’s first lady. Others from South America.

Read the full story here.

How do rescuers respond to a situation like this?

Our reporter Matt Cohen talked to local rescue crews about how they would respond to a situation like this.

Read the full story here.

How can rescuers detect victims in rubble?

Firefighters work in teams and are searching for any signs of life in rubble that stands up to 30 feet high.

However, moving debris with large claws often creates sounds of glass breaking or metal moving, making it difficult to determine if noises are human-made or are the result of moving debris.

Read the full story about rescue efforts here.

SURVIVORS OF THE COLLAPSE: Residents of the building tell the story of how they escaped.

UPDATES CONTINUED:

To help the victims and families of the Surfside collapse, the United Way of Miami-Dade and the Miami Herald have created Operation Helping Hand.

Families will be transported to a new reunification center one block away from the one at Surfside Community Center, 9301 Collins Ave, in Surfside, FL. The new center will be moved north to Grand Beach Hotel, 9449 Collins Ave, in Surfside.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology will begin an investigation in the Surfside building collapse. NIST is known for its investigation of the Twin Towers after 9/11.

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue is using heavy machinery to carefully move debris.

A class-action lawsuit against the Champlain Towers South condo association was filed last night.

A bilingual grief counseling hotline is available for those in need of support.

Prayers for residents of the collapsed surfside building occurring one block away.

Nikki Fried, Florida agriculture commissioner and Democratic candidate for governor, visits Surfside.

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue continue to try locating victims.