Death toll rises to at least four after three bodies were pulled from the rubble overnight, mayor says
Former building manager says no one ever said the building needed repairs immediately
From CNN’s Curt Devine
Alexandria Santamaria, a property manager for the Champlain Towers South condo until 2019, told CNN she was never told the building needed immediate repairs during her time managing the property.
“It’s a 40-year-old building on the beach, so yes there was wear and tear,” Santamaria said. She said the condo had been preparing for its 40-year recertification process since 2019 and many engineers walked the property during the selection process.
“No one ever said there were any signs of repairs that were needed immediately or that there [were] any signs of collapsing,” she said.
Santamaria said she recalled in one of the condo meetings during her tenure as manager, “we even had officials from the city of Surfside come to the meeting and explain the process and discuss the timeline of the 40-year certification.”
She said she left in September or October of 2019. She was listed as the manager in a document notarized in April 2019, CNN confirmed.
Santamaria said the residents of the building “were very close to my heart.”
“I cared about them very much and am just devastated,” she said.
Son of missing woman says he’s providing a DNA swab at family reunification center
From CNN’s Hannah Sarisohn
Pablo Rodriguez told CNN’s Kate Bolduan he’s waiting to hear about his mother and grandmother who were in the Champlain Towers South condominium building when it collapsed early yesterday morning.
Rodriguez said until he gets an official word, he doesn’t have a lot of hope.
Rodriguez said his mother and grandmother took his young son to lunch every Saturday since he was born, and his son is asking if they’re going to come tomorrow, like they do every Saturday.
Rodriguez said his son has seen the video of the building collapsing.
“He’s asking us, and right now we’re not sure what to tell him. He may understand, I don’t know if he’s processed it completely,” Rodriguez said. “We’re trying to hold off until we officially know before we make it clear to him.”
Rodriguez said the biggest question is just how this happened.
It is a building, it is not supposed to fall down, Rodriguez said.
“To get to the point where it collapsed, somebody had to have seen something, somebody had to know something,” Rodriguez said. “Buildings don’t just fall down like this. Especially when they’re being inspected and rebuilt. So that is the hardest thing to process, how this happened without anybody, you know, knowing something or missing something.”
Rodriguez said he was going to the community center to provide DNA to rescuers who are collecting from family members of those missing.
Rescue workers continue to dig through rubble at collapsed condo
From CNN’s Amanda Watts
Crews with the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Department are continuing to dig through the rubble of the collapsed residential building in Surfside in search of survivors.
They are using heavy machinery to carefully move debris around the area. A video of the search operations shows crews carrying buckets as they traverse along the rubble pile.
At least 31 Latin Americans are reported missing in the collapse. CNN has the latest from Mexico City.
From CNN’s Matt Rivers in Mexico City
The impacts of the building collapse in Surfside, Florida, extend far beyond the US.
At least four people are dead and officials say at least 159 are still unaccounted for. Of those unaccounted individuals, at least 31 people are from six Latin American countries.
“The more time that goes by since this partial collapse, we’re learning this is not just an American tragedy. That this is affecting multiple countries across the Western Hemisphere so far,” CNN international correspondent Matt Rivers reports from Mexico City.
“But just like so many American families are waiting for news, the exact same thing is happening for people across South America,” he said.
Rivers reports that family members of Paraguay’s first lady are among those missing, and she has traveled to Miami as search efforts continue. The daughter of a Chilean citizen told CNN Chile that she has not been able to communicate with her father since the building collapse. The woman said her father is the first cousin of Michelle Bachelet’s father, the former president of Chile.
Here’s the latest breakdown of Latin American citizens still unaccounted for:
- Chile: 1
- Argentina: 9
- Paraguay: 6
- Colombia: 6
- Venezuela: 6
- Uruguay: 3
Rivers noted that the primary means of communication between the foreign ministries of these countries has been their consulates based in Miami.
“So these people have close ties to different countries across South America, and what we know about this part of South Florida, is that there are many people from many different South American countries that live permanently or stay in a second apartment in this part of South Florida,” the correspondent said.
“As we learn more and the rescue efforts continue, there is every chance that more citizens from different South American countries will be confirmed as among the missing,” he continued.
Watch Rivers’ report from the Mexican capital:
Officials have identified 3 of the 4 people killed in the building collapse
From CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta
Three of the four people who died in a South Florida building collapse have been identified, according to Dr. Emma Lew, director of the Miami-Dade County Medical Examiner Department.
One was taken to the hospital alive and died later, Lew added. She did not offer further details on the victims who had been identified.
Officials are asking families at the reunification center to provide any distinguishing characteristics of missing relatives such as tattoos, dental work and scars, according to Lew.
She said the office would also collect fingerprints, DNA and X-rays looking for orthopedic implants, for example.
She noted that the bodies might be harder to identify as time passes due to decomposition, especially if exposed to the elements.
Lew said she believes they will be able to manage with six doctors on staff, if and when more bodies come in over time. However, she noted that FEMA had offered to send more medical help as needed.
Attorney general says DOJ is ready to assist with Surfside condo collapse
From CNN’s Christina Carrega
Attorney General Merrick Garland said the Justice Department is standing by as the investigation continues into the apartment building collapse in Florida.
“I’ve expressed great gratitude for the first responders, and for the others who are assisting in the ongoing rescue operation. I know that the federal government is providing assistance to the state and local governments, and we stand ready, as things develop to provide more assistance if it is required,” Garland said at the top of a news conference to announce a federal lawsuit against the state of Georgia’s current voting rights laws.
Garland sent his condolences to the community of Surfside, Florida, where four died and over 100 people are unaccounted for.
Condo reduced to rubble recently passed its roof inspection, says town’s vice mayor
From CNN’s Gregory Lemos
The Vice Mayor of Surfside said Champlain Towers South had recently passed its roof inspection shortly before the collapse.
“What was told to me was that they had passed the roof inspection,” Vice Mayor of Surfside Tina Paul told CNN’s Poppy Harlow Friday. “I knew the roof work was going on.”
Paul said she became aware of the roof work because a couple who lived in Champlain Towers complained about the smell of the tar being used in the roof repairs.
“The smell was just overwhelming for them even with the windows closed,” Paul said. She said the couple who complained is now missing.
Paul said the complaint about the tar was the only complaint about the building she is aware of.
6 Colombians still missing in Surfside building collapse, country’s ministry says
From CNN’s Stefano Pozzebon in Bogota
Six Colombian citizens are still missing from the collapse of a building in Surfside, Florida, Colombian foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Camila Mugno told CNN on Friday.
Answering a question from CNN on whether the six Colombians were inside the building at the moment of collapse, Mugno said the six Colombian citizens are still unaccounted for and treated as missing, at the moment.
Mugno told CNN the six Colombian citizens are a family of three from Medellin and other travelers.
These six Colombians are among at least 31 people from six Latin American countries are still unaccounted for.
Here’s a breakdown of the numbers:
“Hope is the last thing you lose,” says woman looking for her friends and their daughter
Abigail Pereira’s two friends Andres and Fabio had fled Argentina with their six-year-old daughter Sofia because of the coronavirus pandemic and had been in Surfside, Florida, for the last several months, she says.
After the building collapsed early Thursday, Pereira says she has been unable to get reliable information.
Andres was a surgeon and a humble and genuine man, she told CNN’s Nick Valencia, talking to him in Spanish.
Pereira told Valencia that she hopes someone will reach out to her with information if they have seen her friends and their daughter.
“She said, ‘Hope is the last thing that you lose in this situation,’ and for right now, she still has it,” Valencia said as he translated Pereira’s comments.