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'I Have No Hope': Number of Missing Rises to 159 in Florida

And the death toll rises to 4 in Surfside condo collapse
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 25, 2021 12:05 AM CDT
Updated Jun 25, 2021 7:57 AM CDT

(Newser) – The confirmed death toll in the Florida condo collapse rose to four on Friday, while the number of people unaccounted for rose from 99 to 159, reports WSVN. As rescuers continued the desperate search after the partial collapse of the condo building early Thursday, survivors and witnesses were starting to share stories of their horrifying experiences while loved ones were sharing the agony of waiting for news. "I have no hope," one man said through tears to USA Today at the reunification center set up by the Red Cross. His mother and grandmother live in Surfside's Champlain Towers South Condo. "We can’t find him," a woman told the Miami Herald of her husband, who was in one of the units with his brother while his wife stayed with their daughter elsewhere. "He hasn’t responded for 15 hours. … Maybe he’s alive, I don’t know." Survivors described hearing loud booms and feeling the building shaking before the tower came down. Video from inside one unit shows debris raining down before it goes black.

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Fifty-five of the building's 136 units were involved in the collapse. While 35 survivors were pulled from the two-story-high pile of rubble early on, the director of Miami-Dade Emergency Management said by 8am that all easily reachable people were believed to have been pulled from the rubble, and news of rescues was no longer coming in by later in the day. A search and rescue dog detected a woman buried under concrete in the morning, but rescuers later lost voice contact with her as they continued to work to free her. In another rescue, a mother and child were pulled out but the mother's leg had to be amputated. Officials say it's too early to say why the building collapsed, and experts say it could be years before there are answers. The building was undergoing a 40-year recertification for structural integrity at the time, and the inspector had visited Wednesday; the roof was also being redone. In the recent past, residents had complained about the building shaking as another nearby high-rise was being constructed. (The building that collapsed had reportedly been sinking for decades.)

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