Officials awaiting answers in Surfside condo collapse
Part of the 12-story oceanfront Champlain Towers South Condo that collapsed early Thursday in Surfside. Image via AP.

Surfside condo collapse 2
The collapse affected about half of the 12-story beachfront condo's more than 130 units.

Officials don’t expect to have immediate answers to what caused the Surfside condo collapse early Thursday morning.

Gov. Ron DeSantis and state and local officials updated the media with what they are doing to help find survivors. The Governor declined questions and said state engineers won’t immediately know what caused the collapse.

“Probably you’re not going to have those answers immediately, but I know that they are diligently going to be working to be able to do that,” DeSantis said.

Earlier in the day, DeSantis said he was bracing for bad news.

About half of the 12-story beachfront condo’s more than 130 units collapsed around 1:30 a.m. Officials have still only confirmed one fatality, but expect more.

“The TV doesn’t do it justice,” DeSantis said after touring the site. “It is really, really traumatic to see the collapse of a massive structure like that.”

Officials also hope to rescue more survivors.

“We’ve got the dogs, we’ve got the equipment, and we’re going to do our very best to save as many people in that pile of rubble as we possibly can,” Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said.

Photos and video from the scene show the collapse affected half the tower. Piles of rubble and debris surrounded the area just outside the building. The department has yet to say what may have caused the collapse near 88th Street and Collins Avenue.

The building address is 8777 Collins Ave., according to Surfside police. The waterfront condo was built in 1981 on the southeast corner of Surfside, on the beach. It had a few two-bedroom units currently on the market, with asking prices of $600,000 to $700,000, an internet search shows.

The area is a mix of new and old apartments, houses, condominiums and hotels, with restaurants and stores serving an international combination of residents and tourists. The community provides a stark contrast from the bustle and glitz of South Beach with a slower paced neighborhood feel.

Red Cross is helping to provide short-term hotel rooms for people who’ve lost their homes. The city, county and state will also work to provide longer-term housing as necessary

The building was more than 80% occupied when it collapsed, DeSantis said earlier Thursday. At that press conference, he declined to speculate on how many people are affected.

“This is the incredible, unimaginable situation that none of us could have predicted, but we have the right people on the job,” Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said.

The Division of Emergency Management, led by Director Kevin Guthrie, has taken up a primary role in the operation. Personnel from the State Fire Marshal, the Department of Law Enforcement and emergency support teams are on the scene. The Department of Transportation is there with engineers and traffic control services, and the Department of Economic Opportunity is assisting as well.

“We will be here as long as we need to be to continue to assist the local, county and municipal government with the needs that they have of us,” Guthrie said.

Renzo Downey

Renzo Downey covers state government for Florida Politics. After graduating from Northwestern University in 2019, Renzo began his reporting career in the Lone Star State, covering state government for the Austin American-Statesman. Shoot Renzo an email at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.


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