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At least three people are dead as many as 99 are unaccounted after a 12-story residential building partially collapsed in Miami-Dade County, Florida, early Thursday, a county official told ABC News. 

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The collapse of the Champlain Towers South condominium in the small, beachside town of Surfside, about 6 miles north of Miami Beach, was reported around 1:30 a.m. A massive search and rescue operation was launched before dawn, as crews carefully combed through the wreckage and remaining structure for survivors.

a river running through a city © Miami-Dade Fire Rescue/Twitter

It's unclear exactly how many residents are missing.

The Foreign Ministry of Paraguay said six Paraguayan nationals were in the building and still missing: Sophia López-Moreira, the sister of the country's first lady; her husband, Luis Pettengill; their three children; and their nanny, Lady Luna Villalba. President Mario Abdo Benítez canceled his events due to the incident.

a large body of water with a city in the background: A portion of the 12-story condo tower crumbled to the ground during a partially collapse of the building, June 24, 2021, in Surfside, Fla., north of Miami Beach. © Joe Raedle/Getty Images A portion of the 12-story condo tower crumbled to the ground during a partially collapse of the building, June 24, 2021, in Surfside, Fla., north of Miami Beach. Police tape blocks access to a partially collapsed building in Surfside north of Miami Beach, on June 24, 2021. © Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images Police tape blocks access to a partially collapsed building in Surfside north of Miami Beach, on June 24, 2021.

Gabe Nir, who lives in Champlain Tower South with his mother and sister, told ABC News that they ran from the building when they heard the collapse.

Nir said he felt a second, more intense collapse, and said they ran for their lives as a thick cloud of white dust enveloped them, making it hard to breathe. Nir, who compared the collapse to an earthquake, said he's grateful to be alive.

a large ship in the background: A Miami-Dade Police helicopter flies over the Champlain Towers South Condo after the multistory building partially collapsed, June 24, 2021, in Surfside, Fla. © David Santiago/Miami Herald via AP A Miami-Dade Police helicopter flies over the Champlain Towers South Condo after the multistory building partially collapsed, June 24, 2021, in Surfside, Fla. a man and a woman looking at the camera: Family members and residents of the Champlain Towers South greet each other outside the Town of Surfside Community Center in Surfside, north of Miami Beach, on June 24, 2021. © Chandan Khanna/AFP via Getty Images Family members and residents of the Champlain Towers South greet each other outside the Town of Surfside Community Center in Surfside, north of Miami Beach, on June 24, 2021.

So far, crews have rescued 35 people who were trapped in the building and two others from beneath the rubble, according to Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Assistant Chief Raide Jadallah.

The oceanfront condominium has 136 units, and approximately 55 of them collapsed along the northeast corridor, according to Jadallah.

Rubble is piled high after the partial collapse of the 12-story Champlain Towers South condo building on June 24, 2021, in Surfside, Fla. © Joe Raedle/Getty Images Rubble is piled high after the partial collapse of the 12-story Champlain Towers South condo building on June 24, 2021, in Surfside, Fla. a group of people standing in front of a building: People look at the damage at the 12-story oceanfront Champlain Towers South Condo that collapsed early Thursday, June 24, 2021, in Surfside, Fla. © Susan Stocker/South Florida Sun Sentinel via AP People look at the damage at the 12-story oceanfront Champlain Towers South Condo that collapsed early Thursday, June 24, 2021, in Surfside, Fla.

Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett called the collapse a "catastrophe."

Footage from the scene showed firefighters pulling a boy from the rubble alive and rescuing others from still-standing balconies.

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Jadallah told reporters that at least 45 people, including those who were rescued, were medically assessed and treated on site. Aventura Hospital and Medical Center said it's received three patients -- two with critical injuries, one in fair condition -- and Jackson Health System said it has two patients.

Items and debris dangle from a section of the oceanfront Champlain Towers South Condo that partially collapsed, June 24, 2021, in the Surfside area of Miami, Fla. © South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP Items and debris dangle from a section of the oceanfront Champlain Towers South Condo that partially collapsed, June 24, 2021, in the Surfside area of Miami, Fla.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis toured the site, telling reporters it was "traumatic to see."

"It's a tragic day," DeSantis said at a Thursday afternoon news conference. "We still have hope to be able to identify additional survivors."

A building that partially collapsed is seen in Surfside, near Miami Beach, Fla., June 24, 2021. © Octavio Jones/Reuters A building that partially collapsed is seen in Surfside, near Miami Beach, Fla., June 24, 2021. a man holding a dog: Fire rescue personnel conduct a search and rescue with dogs through the rubble of the Champlain Towers South Condo after the multistory building partially collapsed in Surfside, Fla., Thursday, June 24, 2021. © David Santiago/Miami Herald via AP Fire rescue personnel conduct a search and rescue with dogs through the rubble of the Champlain Towers South Condo after the multistory building partially collapsed in Surfside, Fla., Thursday, June 24, 2021.

Burkett, the Surfside mayor, told reporters that the condominium was built in the 1980s and was believed to be substantially full at the time of the partial collapse. The building was undergoing roof work, he said.

Surfside Commissioner Nelly Velasquez told ABC News the building was up for its 40-year recertification.

Some 15 families escaped the building on their own and were put up in a local hotel, according to Burkett. Search dogs did an initial pass around the wreckage when it was still dark and the site was considered dangerous, but there were no signs of survivors at that time, the mayor said.

a person holding a book: Luz Marina holds a picture of her aunt, Marina Azen, who she said is missing after the partial collapse of the 12-story Champlain Towers South condo tower that she was in on June 24, 2021 in Surfside, Fla. © Joe Raedle/Getty Images Luz Marina holds a picture of her aunt, Marina Azen, who she said is missing after the partial collapse of the 12-story Champlain Towers South condo tower that she was in on June 24, 2021 in Surfside, Fla. a pile of snow: Search and rescue personnel work in the rubble of the 12-story condo tower that crumbled to the ground during a partially collapse of the building, June 24, 2021, in Surfside, Fla., near Miami Beach. © Joe Raedle/Getty Images Search and rescue personnel work in the rubble of the 12-story condo tower that crumbled to the ground during a partially collapse of the building, June 24, 2021, in Surfside, Fla., near Miami Beach.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava thanked the "brave" rescuers.

"We need to allow them to do their work because every minute in this search can make a huge difference," she said at a news conference.

a man standing in front of a building: The 12-story condo tower in a Google street view image before it collapsed, left, and after, June 24, 2021, in Surfside, Fla., near Miami Beach. © Google Street View/Getty Images The 12-story condo tower in a Google street view image before it collapsed, left, and after, June 24, 2021, in Surfside, Fla., near Miami Beach.

One witness told ABC News that his wife cares for an elderly woman who lives in the condominium and frantically called him around 1:15 a.m. local time, after the units next door came crashing down. He said his wife and the elderly woman both were rescued.

People in neighboring buildings have been evacuated to a local recreational center, another witness told ABC News.

a large building: Debris fills the lot where the 12-story oceanfront Champlain Towers South Condo collapsed early Thursday, June 24, 2021 in Surfside, Fla., about 6 miles north of Miami Beach. © South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP Debris fills the lot where the 12-story oceanfront Champlain Towers South Condo collapsed early Thursday, June 24, 2021 in Surfside, Fla., about 6 miles north of Miami Beach.

The cause of the collapse is unknown, and the Miami-Dade Police Department is leading an investigation.

"Our goal is to provide a thorough investigation and closure for our families," Freddy Ramirez, director of the Miami-Dade Police Department, told reporters Thursday morning.

President Joe Biden said he spoke with the mayor of Miami-Dade, as well as Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who represents the district. Biden said he was waiting on the governor to ask for an emergency declaration, but he is "ready to move from the federal resources immediately, immediately, if in fact we're asked for it."

a group of people standing on the sidewalk talking on a cell phone: People wait for information after a partial building collapse, June 24, 2021, in Surfside, Fla. © Wilfredo Lee/AP People wait for information after a partial building collapse, June 24, 2021, in Surfside, Fla.

Authorities have opened a family assistance center at the Surfside recreational center for individuals unable to locate loved ones who live in the Champlain Towers South. Anyone with family members from the condominium who are either safe or still missing is urged to call 305-614-1819 to account for them.

ABC News' Aaron Katersky, Ben Stein, Kendall Coughlin, Victor Oquendo, Eliana Larramendia Boyd, Nery Ynclan, Christine Theodorou and Rachel Katz contributed to this report.

Source : https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/florida-building-collapse-latest-3-dead-as-many-as-99-missing/ar-AALnGxF

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