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‘The hope is that there are going to be miracles,’ friend of Surfside building collapse victims says

Mayor: 5 dead, 4 identified, 156 unaccounted for, 130 accounted for

MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – Leo Soto was in Surfside on Saturday waiting for updates about his friends who were in Champlain Towers South when a portion of the ocean side building collapsed on Thursday in Miami-Dade County’s town of Surfside.

Soto said he met Nicole “Nicky” Langesfeld in high school and they had remained friends. He was worried about her and her partner, Luis Sadovnic, who was born in Venezuela. The two lived in an apartment on the 8th floor.

People pray, late Saturday, June 26, 2021, during a prayer vigil for the victims and families of the Champlain Towers collapsed building in Surfside, Fla., at the nearby St. Joseph Catholic Church in Miami Beach, Fla. Many people were still unaccounted for two days after Thursday's fatal collapse. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

“The hope is that there are going to be miracles,” Soto said.

The search-and-rescue operation continued as experts believe there is still a chance of finding survivors trapped in air pockets within the pancaked concrete.

Dozens attended a Saturday prayer vigil that was held from 8 p.m. to midnight at the Saint Joseph Catholic Church, at 8670 Byron Ave., in Miami Beach.

The Archdiocese of Miami released a statement saying Pope Francis offered his prayers “that Almighty God will grant eternal peace to those who have died [and] comfort to those who mourn their loss.”

Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said the official death toll had risen to five on Saturday afternoon, and there were still 156 people unaccounted for. There will come a point when experts will decide to transition to a search-and-recovery operation.

Search-and-rescue teams found a body and human remains in the rubble on Saturday. They had already recovered the bodies of three victims. And after rescuing a woman out of the debris, she died on the way to the hospital on Thursday.

The Medical Examiner’s Office had yet to identify the human remains. Some of the relatives have provided authorities with DNA samples to help speed up the identification process. Officials have yet to identify any of the victims.

A young woman prays with tears in her eyes, Saturday, June 26, 2021, during a prayer vigil for the victims and families of the Champlain Towers collapsed building in Surfside, Fla., at the nearby St. Joseph Catholic Church in Miami Beach, Fla. Many people were still unaccounted for two days after Thursday's fatal collapse. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

Family reunification center

The town is hosting those who are waiting for information about unaccounted relatives at the Grand Beach Hotel Surfside, at 9449 Collins Ave. Levine Cava said there are two daily briefings for relatives.

For information or to report the status of a loved one who is unaccounted for, call 305-614-1819 or 305-993-1071.

Complete coverage

Coverage on Saturday

Coverage on Friday

Coverage on Thursday


About the Authors:

Roy Ramos joined the Local 10 News team in 2018. Roy is a South Florida native who grew up in Florida City. He attended Christopher Columbus High School, Homestead Senior High School and graduated from St. Thomas University.

Joseph Ojo joined Local 10 in April 2021. Born and raised in New York City, he previously worked in Buffalo, North Dakota, Fort Myers and Baltimore.