Family, friends wait for answers on nearly 100 people missing in collapse


SURFSIDE, Fla. (NewsNation Now) — Friends and family are frantically waiting for answers about loved ones lost after a building collapsed in a Miami-area town early Thursday morning.

Debra Golan asked for prayers on Facebook for her friend Estelle Hedaya, who hasn’t responded to calls. She spoke with her on the phone just hours before.

Six Paraguayans are also missing, including the first lady’s sister, the sister’s husband and their three children. A statement from the foreign minister said diplomats are searching for them in all of Miami’s hospitals.

The Champlain Towers South were first built in 1981.

Of the 130 units in the condo, about 80 were occupied by a mix of seasonal and year-round residents.

The city commissioner in Surfside described a 40-year building recertification process as ongoing. She says an inspector was there yesterday.

At least one resident made complaints about the impact of construction on a new building next door.
The man says he noticed cracks on the pool deck.

Surfside is a barrier island made up of 5,700 people, many of them snowbirds, Russian immigrants and members of the Orthodox Jewish community.

NewsNation spoke with Rabbi Ed Farber, from the Beth Torah Benny Rok Campus, who says many of the people missing are listed members at local synagogues. See the interview in the player bellow.

At least one expert with Florida International University says the condo was sinking into the earth at an alarming rate through a process known as land subsidence. A study he conducted last year found subsidence occurred in localized patches at a rate of three millimeters per year.

The author of that study believes the building’s movement over the past decade likely would not cause a collapse in and of itself.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis says an exact cause of the collapse may not be clear right away.

“I know that they are going to have engineers looking at this to try to identify what happened and what was the problematic occurrence,” DeSantis said.

Staff at the Argentine consulate in Miami says at least nine of the people missing in the collapse are from Argentina.

Representatives for Uruguay say three people from there are also missing, along with four from Venezuela.

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