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US governor declares emergency after deadly Florida building collapse

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Some residents were able to walk out of the oceanfront building, while others had to be rescued from their balconies./AFP
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Jun 25, 2021 - 01:11 AM

WASHINGTON (AA) – Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency late Thursday after a residential building partially collapsed during the early morning hours, leaving at least one person dead and dozens missing.

The move will allow for federal assistance amid search-and-rescue operations.

Surfside, Florida Mayor Charles Burkett said the building “pancaked” and squashed individual floors to mere feet between one another, leaving residents trapped in sprawling concrete and metal rubble on the ground.

Search and rescue teams are using dogs to comb the debris for missing persons, but Burkett cautioned that the fact that the building collapsed in the manner it did reduces the likelihood that survivors will be found.

“There’s literally no reason for a 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 or something like that,” said Burkett, who has worked in property development. “That kind of thing should not be happening.”

At least 99 people remain unaccounted for as rescuers search the wreckage, which shifted underground into a parking garage after a wing of the 12-story beachfront condominium tower collapsed, authorities said. About half of the building’s 130 units caved in.

First responders have rescued 35 people from inside the building with 11 being injured, four seriously enough to be sent to nearby hospitals, according to Miami-Dade Fire Rescue.

In all, 102 people have been accounted for, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava told reporters. She has signed an emergency order.

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