, Fla. (AP) — A couple from Argentina and their young daughter. A beloved retired Miami-area teacher and his wife. Orthodox Jews from Russia
. Israelis. The sister of Paraguay's first lady
. Others from South America
They were among the nearly 100 people
still missing Friday morning, a day after the 12-story building collapsed into rubble early Thursday. Much of the Champlain's beach side sheared off for unknown reasons, resulting in a 30-foot (10-meter) pile of concrete and metal.
Only one person had been confirmed dead, but officials feared the death toll
could rise dramatically. Eleven injuries had been reported, with four people being treated in hospitals.
“These are very difficult times, and things will only get worse as time goes on,” said Miami-Dade Police
Director Freddy Ramirez.
Crews appeared to remove a body
from the rubble in a yellow body bag, as firefighters
and others worked through the night in the hopes of finding survivors.
The cause of the collapse, according to officials, has yet to be determined.
The center of the building appeared to collapse first, followed by a section closest to the ocean
teetering and collapsing seconds later as a massive dust cloud swallowed the neighborhood.
Approximately half of the building's 130 units were affected, and rescuers rescued at least 35 people in the first hours after the collapse.
According to Raide Jadallah, an assistant Miami-Dade County fire chief, while listening devices placed on and in the wreckage had picked up no voices, they had detected possible banging noises, giving rescuers hope that some are still alive. Rescuers were tunneling into the wreckage from below, going through the building's underground parking garage.
Personal items were scattered among the wreckage of the Champlain, which was built in 1981 in Surfside, a small suburb northwest of Miami. A children
's bunk bed perched precariously on a top floor, bent but intact and apparently inches from falling into the rubble. A comforter lay on the edge of a lower floor. Televisions. Computers. Chairs.
Dr. Andres Galfrascoli, his husband Fabian Nuez, and their 6-year-old daughter Sofia had spent the night in the apartment of a friend, Nicolas Fernandez, on Wednesday night.
Galfrascoli, a plastic surgeon from Buenos Aires, and Nunez, a theater
producer and accountant, had come to Florida
to escape a COVID-19
resurgence in Argentina and its strict lockdowns, according to Fernandez, and they had worked hard to adopt Sofia.
“Of all days, they chose the worst to stay there,” Fernandez said, adding, “I hope it's not the case, but if they die like this, it'd be so unfair.”
They were not the only South Americans missing, according to foreign ministries and consulates in four countries: nine from Argentina, six from Paraguay, four from Venezuela, and three from Uruguay.
Sophia López Moreira and her family
were among the Paraguayans, who included first lady Silvana Abdo and President
Mario Abdo Bentez's sister-in-law.
According to Israeli media
, Maor Elbaz, the country's consul general in Miami, believes 20 Israeli citizens are missing.
Arnie Notkin, a retired physical education
teacher from the Miami area, and his wife, Myriam, who lived on the third floor, were also missing.
“Everyone has been posting, ‘Oh my God, he was my coach,'” said Fortuna Smukler, a friend who turned to Facebook
in the hopes of finding someone who could report them safe.
“They were also such happy, joyful people. He always had a story to tell, and she always spoke so kindly of my mother,” Smukler said. “Initially, there were rumors that he had been found, but it was a case of mistaken identity. It would be a miracle if they are found alive.”
Tim Reynolds and Ian Mader of the Associated Press
in Miami, Freida Frisaro and Kelli Kennedy of the Associated Press in Fort Lauderdale
, Bobby Caina Calvan of the Associated Press in Tallahassee, and Jay Reeves of the Associated Press in Birmingham, Alabama
, contributed to this report.