Rescue personnel worked around the clock searching through the rubble after a large section of the 12-story Champlain Towers South condo building collapsed in Surfside, Florida. The collapse happened just before 1:30 a.m. on Thursday, June 24, 2021, when many residents were home in bed.
Rescuers pulled out several survivors in the hours after the disaster and continued search and rescue efforts in the pile of wreckage where the high-rise once stood.
"The building is literally pancaked," Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said. "That is heartbreaking because it doesn't mean, to me, that we are going to be as successful as we wanted to be in finding people alive."
Pile of rubble
Rubble is piled high after the collapse of a large section of the 12-story Champlain Towers South condo building.
Teams of 10 to 12 rescuers have been entering the area with dogs and other equipment, working until they tire from the heavy lifting, then making way for a new team, according to Florida's chief financial officer and state fire marshal Jimmy Patronis.
Overnight rescue operation
A rescue worker checked a balcony on the Champlain Towers South as teams cleared the portion of the building that was still standing after the partial collapse in the early morning hours of Thursday, June 24, 2021.
Debris hangs from upper floors
Mayor Burkett said two people were taken to a hospital and one of them died. Miami-Dade Assistant Fire Chief Ray Jadallah said 10 people were treated at the scene of the collapse.
Miami-Dade Fire Rescue deployed more than 80 units to the site along with units from municipal fire departments. Miami Beach Police tweeted that "multiple police and fire agencies from across Miami-Dade" were assisting.
One man told CBS Miami that he "was walking with my brothers, we were walking our dog in the neighborhood, and basically we heard a really big rumble and we thought it was a motorcycle, you know, and we turned around and saw a cloud of dust just coming our way."
What caused the deadly collapse is still unclear.
Mich Balkany, a resident, called the partial collapse "absolutely insane."
"I've been living in Surfside the past 10 years, and this is by far the most horrific thing that I've seen in my life," he told ReliableNewsMedia.
Personal belongings lay bare
The collapse, which appeared to affect one leg of the L-shaped tower, tore away walls and left a number of homes in the still-standing part of the building exposed in what looked like a giant dollhouse.
Florida Power & Light says it cut electricity to about 400 customers in the area as a precaution.
Searching the rubble
A Miami-Dade Fire Rescue worker and a K-9 continue search and rescue operations in the rubble where the 12-story residential building collapsed.
Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said the rescue crews "are totally motivated — they have to be pulled off their shifts." She added, "this work is being done at extreme risk to these individuals"
Boy rescued from the rubble
This photo taken from video provided by ReliableNewsMedia shows firefighters rescue a boy from the rubble of the Champlain Towers South condo in the hours after the collapse on Thursday, June 24, 2021.
He was later identified as 16-year-old Jonah Handler. His mother, Stacie Fang, did not survive.
"The building shook"
A man who lives in a building next door said he felt the collapse, CBS Miami reported.
"The building shook and then I looked out the window and you couldn't see, I thought it was like a storm or something coming in. When the dust cleared, the back two-thirds of the building was gone, it was down to the ground," he said.
Champlain Towers South
Unlike some residential buildings in South Florida primarily used as vacation homes, Mayor Burkett said this building was mostly occupied by full-time residents — mainly families.
Search for survivors
Luz Marina holds a picture of her aunt, Marina Azen, who she said is missing.
A family reunification center was set up nearby for anyone looking for relatives. Family members gathered from around the community and flew in from other states and countries as the agonizing wait continued.
Rescue team with K-9
Members of the South Florida Urban Search and Rescue team look for possible survivors in the partially collapsed 12-story Champlain Towers South condo building on June 25, 2021 in Surfside, Florida.
Search and rescue teams from across Florida joined the effort, working 12-hour shifts around the clock, along with teams from Israel and Mexico.
View of the damage
People look at the devastation at the site of the 12-story Champlain Towers South condo building after the collapse.
Basement parking garage
Fire crew members work in the basement parking garage of the partially collapsed Champlain Towers South condo building in Surfside, Florida, on June 24, 2021.
On the edge
Bunkbeds remain standing at the exposed edge of a room inside the partially collapsed 12-story beachfront condo building in Surfside, Florida.
Family members wait at reunification center
Jennifer Carr, right, sits with her daughter as they wait for news at a family reunification center.
Inspecting the wreckage
Rescue workers on a crane inspect the wreckage of the collapsed condo building in Surfside, Florida, on June 25, 2021.
CBS Miami reports officials say they removed about 3 million pounds of concrete from the pile in the first week of search efforts.
Cousins Andrea and Nellie Gonzalez wait for news at a family reunification center. They were vacationing from Wisconsin and had to be evacuated from a nearby building.
"The most insane thing I've ever seen in my life"
A man who was evacuated from a nearby hotel said: "The building — one of these huge buildings — gone! ... The building — it's gone. ... The whole building's gone. ... Oh my gosh. This is the most insane thing I've ever seen in my life."
Working through the night
Search and rescue personnel and Miami-Dade firefighters work at the scene of the collapsed high-rise condo building in Surfside, Florida.
"Nothing can ever prepare you for what we witness when we arrived. There's no way to describe it," Miami-Dade firefighter Eddy Alarcon told CBS Miami. "It's an enormous amount of work. The pile is endless. We're working night and day and we're just barely scratching the surface, but I know we're making progress."
Fire in the rubble
Miami-Dade Fire Rescue personnel spray water on a fire in the rubble of the partially collapsed 12-story Champlain Towers South condo building as search and rescue operations continue on Friday, June 25, 2021.
People visit a makeshift memorial for the victims of the building collapse.
Biden visits memorial
President Joe Biden gets emotional as he visits the Surfside Wall of Hope & Memorial near the site of the collapsed Champlain Towers South condo building in Surfside, Florida, on July 1, 2021.
He met with local officials, first responders, and family members of victims and missing residents.
Lifting debris from the rubble
A piece of debris is lifted from the rubble as search and rescue teams continue to look for possible survivors in the collapsed 12-story Champlain Towers South condo building.
Search and rescue efforts
Search and rescue teams look for possible survivors in the rubble of the partially collapsed 12-story Champlain Towers South condo building.
Victoria Mayer and her son Antonio visit a makeshift memorial with photos of missing residents at the site of the collapsed condo building in Surfside, Florida.
Workers survey the rubble
Search and rescue personnel work to find any survivors or casualties in the rubble of the collapsed 12-story Champlain Towers South condo building.
Search for survivors
Search and rescue teams look for possible survivors in the partially collapsed 12-story Champlain Towers South condo building on June 27, 2021.
Demolition of remaining structure
The remaining portion of the Champlain Towers South condo building is demolished in Surfside, Florida, on July 4, 2021.
Officials said the structure was unstable and posed a risk to the ongoing search and rescue efforts.
A view of the beachfront skyline on July 5, 2021, after the demolition of the remaining portion of the Champlain Towers South condo building.
Photos and prayers
People pray in front of the memorial wall displaying photos of some of the missing from the partially collapsed Champlain Towers South condo building on July 3, 2021, in Surfside, Florida.