Surfside condo: Witnesses describe collapse as 'earthquake, bomb and tornado' rolled into one
SURFSIDE, FLORIDA: Witnesses and residents expressed their shock and disbelief following the deadly condo building collapse near Miami Beach early Thursday on June 24, with some describing the disaster as an earthquake and bomb rolled into one.
As we had previously reported, the Champlain Towers South building located at 8777 Collins Avenue in Surfside partially collapsed around 1.30 am. According to a CNN report, a staggering 55 of the building's 136 units collapsed at one go, leaving huge piles of rubble and an unknown number of victims.
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"Earthquake, slash bomb, slash tornado," one resident told WPTV on condition of anonymity. "I jumped up, went straight out, and looked out the window. Broken glass, everything. Stuff was flying."
The witness explained how there was so much smoke and dust from the collapse that he thought they were in the middle of a tornado. "All of a sudden, the alarms started going off like crazy," the resident continued. "I just ran and grabbed my kids real quick. Just picked them up, pulled them out of bed, and took off outside."
Another resident, Ofi Osin-Cohen was reportedly sleeping in her condo at the Champlain Towers when it suddenly started shaking in the middle of the night.
"I opened the door and saw all the debris. It was impassable," she told WPTV. "We went down the stairwell and there were other people in the stairwell, which is where the pool deck is, to get out and we couldn’t get out."
Osin-Cohen recalled how she went down one more floor to the garage and found it was full of water. Seeing no way out, she and her husband decided to get back to their condo. "We went to our balcony. Fire rescue was all over the place. God bless them. They are amazing heroes," she said. "They lifted us out of the building with one of those cherry pickers on the fire trucks."
The shaken resident described the incident as a "surreal experience" and "unimaginable." "You just can’t think that can happen to you in the middle of the night while you’re sleeping," Osin-Cohen said. "It’s a very emotional experience for many reasons. Thank God for us we got out alive, and I just pray other people did too."
This is what it looks like underneath the Surfside collapse in the parking garage. You notice standing water. Residents of the building have told us that water was there before the collapse -- and was a major concern.— Brian Entin (@BrianEntin) June 25, 2021
Video courtesy: Miami-Dade Fire Rescue pic.twitter.com/y1hsDowsnK
Meanwhile, nearby resident Roberto Castillero saw the building collapse. "It was a lot of noise," Castillero told WPTV. "Then my wife told me, we gotta leave here. That building is gonna go down."
Social media was inundated with horrifying photos and videos after the 12-story residential building collapsed. The condo complex is reportedly one block from Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump's Miami home.
At least four persons are confirmed dead and 159 others are unaccounted for, officials said, adding that at least 11 people were injured and four were taken to the hospital. As of now, rescue teams are trying to locate victims who may be trapped in the rubble.
"It is a very slow and methodical process because every time we start breaching parts of the structure, we do get debris that falls on us," said MDFR Assistant Chief of Operations Raide Jadallah. "All operations are occurring underneath the rubble."
For those unable to locate relatives who live in the building, a family assistance and reunification center has been opened at the Surfside Community Center, located at 9301 Collins Avenue. According to WPTV, you can file a Missing Person Report online or call 305-614-1819.