“We have a 13-story building with both of the buildings gone,” the responder told dispatch, according to audio from Broadcastify. “This is gonna be a high priority. We’re going to need a full assignment on this. Everybody.”
As of Thursday afternoon, one person is confirmed dead and 99 are unaccounted for.
“I see many people on their balconies,” he said on another recording. “The building is gone, there’s just nothing. I mean it almost resembles the [World] Trade Center.”
About half of the building’s 130 units collapsed, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said at a news conference.
The collapse tore away walls and left a number of homes in the still-standing part of the building exposed in what looked like a giant dollhouse. Television footage showed bunk beds, tables and chairs still left inside. Air conditioner units were hanging from some parts of the building, where wires now dangled. Search and rescue operations were still underway.
“The building is literally pancaked,” Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said. “That is heartbreaking because it doesn’t mean, to me, that we are going to be as successful as we wanted to be in finding people alive.”
Gov. Ron DeSantis, who toured the scene, said television did not capture the scale of what happened.
Rescue crews are “doing everything they can to save lives. That is ongoing, and they’re not going to rest,” he said.
The Associated Press, Sydney Kalich and Brian Entin contributed to this report.