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‘It’s just really traumatizing’: Surfside residents wait for updates after building collapse

SURFSIDE, Fla. – Lola Ram is waiting for news of her friend after an unexpected tragedy struck Miami-Dade County’s town of Surfside. Many woke up to police sirens. Some ran out of their buildings to see what was happening early Thursday morning.

Shortly before 2 a.m., a 40-year-old condominium building partially collapsed. Juan Triana said his neighboring apartment windows shook. He and his family ran outside and saw some of the survivors were holding flashlights.

Some of the survivors were shouting for help. Fire Rescue personnel and police officers responded to the L-shaped Chaplain Towers South, at 8777 Collins Ave.

“I just heard like people screaming. It was really disturbing,” Triana said, adding many broke down crying.

Ram said her friend is among the 99 people who are unaccounted for on Thursday afternoon. She was among the anguished at 88th Street and Harding Avenue where the ruins of the 12-story building were visible.

“I know I can’t do anything, but I just want to make sure she was OK,” Ram said through tears. “It’s just really traumatizing.”

A bed hangs from the debris of a condominium building that collapsed early Thursday morning in Surfside. (AP Foto/Wilfredo Lee) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Search and rescue efforts were ongoing more than 16 hours after the collapse. The dust was settling. Another group of relatives and friends was waiting at the town’s improvized reunification center.

Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said there was ongoing roof work in the building, which was in the process of recertification. Structural inspections were required. There were more than 130 units damaged. Most of them had views of the ocean or the intercoastal waterway.

This photo taken from video provided by ReliableNewsMedia firefighters rescue a survivor from the rubble of the Champlain Towers South Condo after the multistory building partially collapsed in Surfside, Fla., early Thursday, June 24, 2021. (ReliableNewsMedia via AP).

President Joe Biden’s administration, Gov. Ron DeSantis, and Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava were waiting for updates on victims and on what caused the partial collapse.

“This is not going to be immediate in terms of what happened but I know they are going to have engineers looking at this to try to identify what happened,” DeSantis said.

There was a partial collapse early Thursday morning at the Chaplain Towers South, at 8777 Collins Ave., in the town of Surfside. (Copyright 2020 by WPLG Local10.com - All rights reserved.)

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About the Authors:

Alex Finnie joined the Local 10 News team in May 2018. South Florida is home! She was raised in Miami and attended the Cushman School and New World School of the Arts for high school.

Terrell Forney joined Local 10 News in October 2005 as a general assignment reporter. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, but a desire to escape the harsh winters of the north brought him to South Florida.