By Alvaro Blanco
Miami, US, Jun 24 (EFE).- Hours pass at the reunification center for families of at least 99 people missing in the condo building collapse in Miami-Dade, Florida, Thursday, but relatives have not yet lost hope.
Rachel Spiegel, daughter of 65-year-old Judy, says she has a thousand questions about what happened, but for now she just wants to hug her mother again. The pair spoke just hours before the building collapsed.
Judy lived in apartment 603, two floors below where Argentinians Andrés Galfrascoli and Fabián Núñez and their 6-year-old daughter, Sofía, were spending the night. They are also missing.
Among those missing are Americans, Argentinians, Uruguayans, Colombians, Puerto Ricans, Venezuelans and Paraguayans, including the sister and brother-in-law of Paraguay’s first lady, Silvana López Moreira, and their three children.
Spiegel said they have been given little information and almost everything is limited to a tense wait, but they are doing “everything possible” to maintain confidence in the rescue teams.
Moisés Rubinstein, a neighbor and member of the local Jewish community who has reached out to survivors and relatives of the missing, arrived early in the morning and has been helping in the center.
Inside, he told EFE, there are more than 100 people separated into family groups, among which anger is increasing because some feel the authorities are taking too long in the rescue operation.
It does not help that inside the center, DNA samples are already being taken from the relatives in order to identify possible victims, according to Spiegel.
A group of emotional support dogs help them in these first hours since the tragedy that occurred in the small town of Surfside, neighboring Miami Beach.
The center is also a meeting and information point for affected residents, who have been transferred to nearby hotels by the Red Cross, leaving only the relatives of the missing.
Sarah Nir lived on the first floor in the southeast sector of the building – an annex to the part of the building that collapsed at dawn. Nir told EFE it was a “miracle” that her building section and her children survived.
They had just gotten home five minutes before the incident. Her daughter Honey was getting ready to shower before going to bed when they heard banging noises “like construction work,” so went to go down to complain to the guard.
She didn’t have time. There was a big noise, and she and her children ran outside thinking it was an earthquake. When they got out, part of their building had collapsed.
Nir went to the community center to find out where they could sleep and to see if there is a possibility to return to the building at some point to collect her most important belongings.
Help has been coming in from neighbors and organizations for those who got out with only what they were wearing.
Upon learning of the situation of those affected, young Daniel Beaoliel arrived at the reunification center with two large bags full of footwear.
Others have brought mattresses, blankets, sheets, towels and pillows for those who will spend the night in the center while they wait for news and pray that their relatives are still alive. EFE