At least one person was killed and one boy was pulled to safety after a high-rise condominium building partially collapsed early Thursday near Miami Beach.
A massive search and rescue effort was underway after the incident at the 12-story building in Surfside, a town in Florida’s Miami-Dade County.
At least 10 people were being treated for injuries at the scene, according to Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett, while dozens more were displaced.
Aventura Hospital and Medical Center said it received three patients, including two in critical condition.
“It’s hard to imagine how this could happen,” Burkett told NBC’s “TODAY” show. “Buildings just don’t fall down.”
He said that the building had roof work going on, “but you would never expect that to be the issue. I think that this is a catastrophic failure of that building.”
“I mean it looks like a bomb went off, but we’re pretty sure a bomb didn’t go off,” Burkett added.
He said there were “quite a few” people in the building at the time of the collapse and that some people were able to make their way to the front of the structure as the back collapsed. However, search dogs weren’t finding any survivors “and that’s a great disappointment,” he said.
“When the building came down, it pancaked. So there’s just not a lot of voids that they’re finding, or seeing from the outside,” Burkett said. “That’s a tragedy.”
“But the Miami Dade Fire Department has been awesome,” he said. “They’ve gotten in there and they’re in there risking their lives. I mean we don’t know if the rest of that building’s gonna come down.”
Burkett added that 50 hotel rooms next door to the residential building were also evacuated.
Footage from the scene showed a large section of a multistory building collapsed into a pile of rubble below. NBC Miami aired video of a boy being pulled out of the rubble alive and being placed on a stretcher.
Emergency crews were going from balcony to balcony with a fire ladder on the side of the building that was left standing, seemingly looking for people who might be trapped.
Miami-Dade Fire Rescue was on the scene of the incident near 88th Street and Collins Avenue with more than 80 fire rescue units involved in the response, the agency said just after 2 a.m. ET.
That included a Technical Rescue Team that is trained in the removal of victims trapped in complex or confined spaces, fire officials said.
Municipal fire departments and Miami Beach police were also assisting.
“It’s a very active scene, I advise everyone to just stay out of the area so that fire rescue and officers can conduct rescues and do what we need to do,” Surfside Police Sgt. Marian Cruz said, according to NBC Miami.
Records showed the condo, called Champlain Towers South, was built in 1981 and has more than 100 residential units.
It’s not clear how many people were inside the building at the time of the collapse.
The building is located across from a sandy beach in the oceanfront community of about 6,000 people.
Police blocked nearby roads and traffic in the area was diverted early Thursday.