Florida [US], June 26 (ANI): The death toll following the collapse of a 12-year-old oceanfront condo building in Miami, Florida, has risen to four, while at least 159 people are now unaccounted for in the incident.
Three of the four people who died in the South Florida building collapse have been identified, according to Dr Emma Lew, director of the Miami-Dade County Medical Examiner Department, CNN reported.
One was taken to the hospital alive and died later, Lew added. She did not offer further details on the victims who had been identified. Officials are asking families at the reunification center to provide any distinguishing characteristics of missing relatives such as tattoos, dental work and scars, according to Lew.
A large oceanfront condo building near Miami Beach partially collapsed on Thursday, prompting a massive search-and-rescue response as many people were reported missing.
Dozens of units from police and fire agencies rushed to Champlain Towers South here at 1:30 a.m. after the northeast corridor of the building collapsed, reported Washington Post citing Assistant Fire Chief Ray Jadallah.
At least 120 people have been accounted for in the building collapse.
"We're even going and looking at the license plates of the cars that are in the parking garage to try to do more cross-referencing and matching to verify if people are in or out of the building," Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis told CNN.
Talking to families waiting for an answer in such a situation is "tough," he added.
Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden has already approved an emergency declaration from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for the state of Florida.
Florida's FEMA Director, Kevin Guthrie, said he received the emergency declaration from FEMA shortly after midnight. Guthrie said the declaration will turn on debris removal, emergency protective measures and individual assistance for reimbursement
The daughter of a Chilean citizen told CNN Chile that she has not been able to communicate with her father since the building collapse in Florida. Paraguay's First Lady Silvana Lopez Moreira is also in Florida as the search goes on for her sister and the family of her sister after the incident.
President Biden addressed the deadly building collapse and assured the victims and Floridians that the White House is sending help their way.
"I just want to say, I've spoken to governor DeSantis, and we provided all the help that they have, they need," CNN quoted the President's remarks in the White House. "We sent the best people from FEMA down there. We're going to stay with them, with the disaster declaration we made, provide for everything from housing to, God forbid, whether there's a need for moratoria for the bodies to be placed and everything in between."
Footage of the collapse captured by nearby security cameras shows a wing of the building suddenly collapsing and a cloud of dust filling the air. One witness described seeing people trapped inside using their phone flashlights to signal for help.
A 2020 study conducted by Shimon Wdowinski, a professor in the department of earth and environment at Florida International University, found that the building had been sinking since the 1990s, according to US media. (ANI)