A massive search-and-rescue operation was underway just north of Miami Beach on Thursday morning, after a 12-story residential building partially collapsed in the middle of the night.
The collapse brought scores of first responders racing to the beachside property in the city of Surfside in Miami-Dade County. Police in Miami-Dade have confirmed that at least one person has died, with many more lives feared in danger.
The building, located at 8777 Collins Avenue, was built in 1981 and houses more than 80 units.
The collapse occurred sometime around 2 a.m. Images of the scene shared online show the entire side of the building destroyed with piles of rubble, wires and metal heaped alongside the east side of the complex facing the Atlantic Ocean.
“People in the intact part of the building are being evacuated now…they have been evacuated,” Daniella Levine Cava, the mayor of Miami-Dade County, told NPR.
“What a terrible tragedy,” she said.
Cava said it was too early for investigators to know what caused the building to collapse, but said investigators were on already on the scene alongside engineers and other emergency responders. The city of Surfside was responsible for the police response, said Cava. Miami-Dade Fire Rescue is leading the emergency management of the site, and has set up a family reunification center roughly half a mile from the building.
Representatives from Miami-Dade Fire Rescue did not immediately respond to NPR’s request for additional information or comment.
This is a developing story. Some details reported by the media may later turn out to be wrong. We will focus on reports from police officials and other authorities, credible news outlets and reporters who are at the scene, and we will update as the situation develops.