Miami, Jun 25 (EFE).- Family members of the victims and survivors of the collapse of a residential building in the seaside locality of Surfside in the Miami-Dade county of Florida, United States, have not received any answers from authorities and remained in limbo on Friday evening, over 36 hours after the sudden and inexplicable incident.
A day after 55 of the Champlain Towers South Condo’s 136 units collapsed at around 1.30 am within seconds, little progress has been made in the efforts to rescue possible survivors.
The death toll remains at four, while as many as 159 people are still classified as missing.
On Friday, authorities decided to move the family reunification point from the community center of the small city north of Miami Beach to a nearby hotel.
While moving from the first location to the next, the families tried to avoid the press, with the authorities seeking to provide them privacy at the hotel as despair begins to set in over the prolonged rescue efforts.
Janet Aguero, who was on the 11th floor of the collapsed building at the time of the incident along with her husband and two children, narrated her harrowing experience to EFE.
She said that seconds after hearing loud “explosion-like” sounds, they ran down the stairs, where some steps were already missing, and reached a sunken ground floor.
“When we came out to the hallway we realized how serious it was,” said the Cuban-origin resident of New Jersey, adding that the incident reminded her of the 2001 Twin Tower attacks in New York, the city where she works.
Aguero said that she and her family were barely able to sleep on Thursday night and the sound of thunder reminded them of the collapse.
She said she had been waiting to know if and when they would be able to collect their belongings, including passports and the keys to her house.
The Collins Avenue, which connects the family reunification center and the collapsed building, was teeming with police cars and media vehicles on Friday, while earlier in the day firefighters had to spray water at the site due to small fires igniting inside.
A number of religious and social organizations have been helping the authorities provide clothes, blankets and foods to the survivors.
Ronny Collin, 13, had come from another city in Florida, situated 74 kilometers (46 miles) away, along with his father to bring clothes and water and assist in any way he could.
The authorities and locals still have hardly any clues about the reasons behind the sudden collapse of the 12-floor beachfront building.
Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said on Friday that the rescue teams were working tirelessly and taking turns to look for survivors at the building, which had recently undergone a mandatory inspection on completing 40 years.
“We still have hope that we will find people alive,” she said. EFE