As anxious family members waited for news – and the search continued through the night – officials urged one powerful sentiment: hope.
“I remain hopeful because our first responders tell me they have hope,” Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava told CNN. “They’re the ones on the ground. They are in the tunnels; they are in the water; they are above the pile of rubble. They help sift through using cameras, dogs, sonar and they say they have hope. “
About 55 of the 136 units in the building a few miles north of Miami Beach collapsed around 1:30 a.m. Thursday, leaving huge piles of rubble on the ground and material hanging from what was left of the structure, said responsible.
Thirty-five people were rescued from the standing parts of the building by first responders, Jadallah said Thursday.
The number of people missing has risen from 99 to at least 159, Cava said on Friday. She added that the figure refers to those who may have been in the complex.
“So these are people who may be living there, but we don’t know if they were there at the time,” Cava said.
Authorities do not know how many people were in the building at the time of the collapse, said Andy Hyatt, director of Surfside Town.
Among those missing are Vishal Patel, his wife Bhavna Patel, their 1-year-old daughter Aishani Patel and their niece Sarina Patel told CNN, adding that Bhavna Patel was four months pregnant.
Sarina Patel told CNN’s Chris Cuomo on Friday that she last spoke to her family on Father’s Day.
“I actually called them to tell them that I had just booked a flight to come visit them because they asked me to come and see their house and meet their daughter that I didn’t meet her because pandemic, ”said Sarina Patel. .
They were at home at the time of the collapse, Sarina Patel told Cuomo.
“We tried to call them countless times and there was no response, no text, nothing,” she said. “They haven’t contacted anyone. “
Mystery of the cause of the collapse
The cause of the collapse remains unknown, and an expert told CNN the conclusion could take months.
Kobi Karp, architect and Miami resident, said forensic engineering will be needed to determine the cause.
“It’s an event we’ve never had before. You can watch it; you can speculate as to how this happened. But at the end of the day, it will take us months to figure it out, ”he explained.
He added that part of the building collapsing while the other was standing is a “mystery”.
“At the end of the day, a crash like this is a very unique and special situation,” Karp said.
Structural engineer Kit Miyamoto also spoke to CNN on Friday night about possible causes, including corrosion of the metal inside the column, or the settling or subsidence of an area of land at a different rate than others. , or a combination of different factors. .
“The question is why the column failed? ” he said. “A building is actually difficult to collapse. There is a lot of redundancy in the build system. That’s why you don’t see collapses like this. “
Miyamoto pointed out that even in places like California where large earthquakes are common, collapses like this are extremely rare.
Search efforts continued through the night, with Miami-Dade fire and rescue teams working alongside three other state task forces, Miami-Dade Fire Chief Alan said. Comisky. International teams from Mexico and Israel arrived at the scene to assist on Friday.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency said it sent three urban search and rescue teams to help with the search.
Additionally, structural engineers reinforced other places – such as areas near a parking lot under the rubble – to allow crews to tunnel underneath with light machinery.
“We have the best people for the job, and we have the right people for the job. The people who are here are highly skilled and trained, ”Cava said. “They still believe that there are people they can reach. “
Building officials: there were no known structural issues
With the cause of the collapse looking out of reach in the immediate days, officials familiar with the building have repeatedly said they were unaware of the issues that could lead to its collapse.
Donna DiMaggio Berger, lawyer for the Champlain Towers condo association, said board members were unaware of any information that foreshadowed Thursday’s disaster.
The building was undergoing a 40-year recertification process, and the board only knew what the engineer’s certification report included in terms of repair work, she said.
“Typical things an engineer looks for in a certification report in Miami-Dade and Broward County, which are the two counties that require this type of certification, are a review of the roof, the HVAC system, the electrical, plumbing and building envelope, ”Berger told CNN.
“But certainly there was nothing dangerous that was described in this report, anything that would have turned out to be life threatening. “
She reiterated that the building was safe to live in, as far as she and the board members knew.
The resort was built in 1981, according to Miami-Dade online property records. Building standards were tightened after the very destructive Hurricane Andrew in 1992.
“What this tells you is … nothing like this was predictable, at least it was not seen by the engineers who were examining the building from a structural point of view,” Kenneth Direktor, lawyer for the association of residents of the condominium. , CNN previously said.
Direktor, an attorney for the condominium residents association, said the building had undergone “extensive technical inspections over the past few months” to comply with a 40-year certification.
A class action lawsuit filed Thursday alleges that the collapsed condominium association is responsible for “failures to secure and protect” the lives and property of condominium owners.
Direktor responded on behalf of the association saying, “I don’t know what caused this building to fall… Engineers don’t know for sure what caused this building to fall. “
CNN’s Rosa Flores reported from Surfside; Steve Almasy and Ray Sanchez have reported and written from Atlanta. Curt Devine, Rebekah Riess, Amanda Watts, Sara Weisfeldt, Theresa Waldrop, Ana Zuniga, Melissa Alonso, Jamiel Lynch, Camille Furst, Abel Alvarado, Kristen Holmes, Valentina Moreira, Gerardo Lemos and Radina Gigova contributed to this report,