SURFSIDE, Fla. (NewsNation Now) — A friend of two people missing in the Florida building collapse described holding out hope they were still alive, but understands the odds are daunting they will be found alive.
Mylene Padilla Surujon described her friends Nicole and Ruslan Manashirov as a “wonderful couple”
“I met Nicole when she first moved here from Pittsburgh. She was a traveling physician assistant and worked at the emergency room at Aventura hospital and she was just a very wonderful, funny, special girl. She loved helping people she worked through COVID in the emergency room, during the heart of COVID last year…” Surujon said.
Surujon said she loved going out with Nicole, Ruslan, and Surujon’s husband
“And they were just silly and full of life. And (Ruslan) just finished medical school not too long ago. And he was just getting his career as a doctor. loving his job. His patients loved him. They were just just so special,” Surujon
150 people are still missing in the tragedy including the Manashirovs. 11 people have been confirmed as deceased.
Surujon explained the couple had moved into the building in February and were married in May.
“I was just there and I mean it’s such a picturesque scene, beautiful condos on the beach. The beach is beautiful,” Surujon said.
The building collapsed just days before a deadline for condo owners to start making steep payments toward more than $9 million in repairs that had been recommended nearly three years earlier, in a report that warned of “major structural damage.”
She said they fell in love with the beach location, but had decided to rent instead of buy inside the building because of concerns with the HOA.
“She heard from other neighbors that they were going ‘Oh, going through a gonna have a large assessment.’ So they had decided they probably were not going to buy there,” Surujon stated.
The search for survivors has been ongoing for five days with workers frequently getting stalled by spontaneous fires and water issues in the rubble.
Surujon believes rescue workers are doing the best they can.
“And I think that people should see really the size of this mess before they say anything or because it’s it’s a humongous mess. And it’s dangerous for the rescue workers as well. And the building next door could fall or rubble can fall on these people. So I think they’re doing a pretty good job,” Surujon said.
Families of the missing rode buses to a site nearby from which they could watch teams at work Sunday: firefighters, sniffer dogs and search experts employing radar and sonar devices.
Some families had hoped their visit to the site near the 12-story building would allow them to shout messages to loved ones possibly buried deep inside the pile. As they returned to a nearby hotel, several paused to embrace as they got off the bus. Others walked slowly with arms around each other back to the hotel entrance.
I’m holding on to hope but like the the the person before was speaking Pablo, I believe I saw where they live and I when I saw it go down. I find it a little hard to believe that there’s survival of course I still have that little bit of hope. But I know they were sleeping at the time her and I exchanged text she said she was tired. She was going to bed so I’ve just hope that if she did go It was fast and peaceful.
The Associated Press contributed to this report