Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis held out hope Thursday that more survivors will be pulled from the rubble of a partially collapsed oceanfront condo building near Miami, where dozens of people remain unaccounted for.
“We still have hope to be able to identify additional survivors,” the Republican said in an afternoon press briefing, shortly after touring the disaster site in Surfside, just north of Miami Beach.
The ocean-facing portion of the 12-story building collapsed with a thunderous roar around 1:30 a.m., leaving at least one person dead, at least 10 more injured and 51 people unaccounted for, according to officials, who noted that those 51 people weren’t all necessarily inside the building.
“The TV doesn’t do it justice,” said DeSantis. “It is really, really traumatic to see the collapse of a massive structure like that.”
The governor noted that first responders remain “in search-and-rescue mode.”
“They are trying to identify survivors. I know they have made contact with some,” he said. “They’re doing everything they can to save lives, and that is ongoing. They’re not going to rest.”
DeSantis hailed as heroes the responders who raced into the partially destroyed building in search of survivors even as they were unsure whether further collapse was imminent.
“We didn’t know whether the building had any structural integrity, and they were shepherding people to safety,” he said. “They absolutely saved people’s lives.”
The Red Cross is helping to establish temporary hotels to house those displaced in the collapse, DeSantis said.
It remains unclear what caused the condo building, which dates to 1981, to give way, and DeSantis cautioned that an explanation was unlikely to come quickly.
“This is not necessarily going to be immediate in terms of what ended up happening, but I know that they are going to have engineers looking at this to try to identify what happened,” he said. “Probably you’re not going to have those answers immediately.”