A young boy has been pulled alive from the rubble of the 12-story Miami beach apartment building that collapsed overnight, killing at least one person, after a Good Samaritan heard the child’s screams and came to his rescue.
Video from the scene showed the boy being carried out by firefighters after the Champlain Towers South beachfront building collapsed at about 1.30am on Thursday in Miami’s Surfside neighborhood.
The boy, who hasn’t been identified, was placed on a stretcher before being removed from the scene.
Nicholas Balboa told CNN he was walking his dog in the area when he felt the ground shake in what ‘felt like an earthquake.’ He then rushed to the scene of the building collapse and heard the boy’s cries for help.
Video from the scene showed the boy being rescued by fire crews after the Champlain Towers South beachfront building collapsed at about 1.30am on Thursday in Miami’s Surfside neighborhood
Nicholas Balboa spoke to CNN about his role in rescuing the child from the collapsed building in Miami overnight
Looking at the rubble, Balboa said he thought of the September 11 attacks and likened the scene opening before him to something ‘out of a horror movie.’ .
‘I was thinking to myself, “How could anyone survive?”‘ he said.
Balboa went on: ‘As I was thinking that, I heard a voice yelling.’
The dog owner got closer and saw the boy ‘sticking his hand up through the debris and I could see his hand and fingers wiggling.’
Balboa and another bystander then climbed the mound of debris, along with firefighters who arrived on the scene to help.
Balboa said that the boy was at home with his mother at the time of the collapse. He was found under his bed, suggesting that he was sleeping when the building came down.
‘We could hear him. We could see him clearly,’ Balboa said of the rescued child. ‘His mom, we weren’t able to see, we weren’t able to hear her, so I don’t know what her status is, but God willing, she’s OK.’
The boy’s condition was not immediately known and it was not clear what happened to his mother.
He was among the 35 rescued from the damaged building in the early stages of the rescue operation.
One woman has since been confirmed dead, while 10 others were injured. The woman who died and another person was taken to the hospital.
Rescue teams are currently using machinery, dogs and sound technology to help trawl the wreckage for any more survivors.
Authorities fear many more people may be dead or remain trapped under the rubble and warned the recovery efforts could last an entire week.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said rescue teams had made contact with some survivors by mid-morning but did not elaborate on where they were located or if they had been rescued.
‘Right now, we have the fire rescue. They are in search and rescue mode. They are trying to identify survivors, I know they have made contact with some, and I know they are doing everything they can to save lives,’ he said.
Miami-Dade Commissioner Sally Heyman said officials have yet to account for 51 people who are believed to have lived in the building. It was unclear whether any, or all of them, were inside at the time of the collapse.
The boy, who hasn’t been identified, was carried out of the rubble by multiple first responders
He was placed on a stretcher before being carried away from the scene. The boy’s condition was not immediately known
DeSantis and other authorities said earlier that they were bracing for bad news in terms of survivors given the level of destruction.
‘The building has literally pancaked,’ Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said.
‘That is heartbreaking because it doesn’t mean to me that we are going to be as successful as we wanted to be in finding people alive.’
Authorities say the building was ‘substantially full’ when it collapsed. Of the building’s 136 apartments, 55 were destroyed.
The tower, which is located one block away from where Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump currently live, has a mix of seasonal and year-round residents. Mayor Burkett said the building keeps a log of guests staying but does not keep track of when owners are in residence.
Crowds of people were gathering at a family reunification center set up nearby as they awaited news on their family and friends.
Authorities have not yet determined what caused the building to collapse but confirmed that renovations had been underway on the roof in recent weeks.
Video from the scene showed firefighters pulling a young boy from the rubble. Witnesses also reported hearing screams from beneath the collapsed building
A huge emergency search and rescue operation is underway after the beachfront condo tower, Champlain Towers South, collapsed at about 1.30am this morning in the Miami neighborhood of Surfside. One woman has been confirmed dead and at least eight people were injured
Burkett said it was unlikely that the roof work had anything to do with the collapse, instead describing it as a ‘catastrophic failure’ of the building.
‘It’s hard to imagine how this could have happened,’ Burkett said. ‘Buildings just don’t fall down.
‘There’s no reason for this building to go down like that unless someone literally pulls the supports out from underneath.’
Burkett suggested that potential causes could be the result of the foundations being washed out or a sinkhole.
The Miami-Dade Police have assumed control of the investigation as to why the building collapsed.
The collapse, which appeared to affect one leg of the L-shaped tower, tore away walls and left a number of homes in the still-standing part of the building exposed in what looked like a giant dollhouse.
Bunk beds, tables and chairs could be seen still left inside the damaged apartments. Air conditioner units were hanging from some parts of the building where wires now dangled.
Photos and video from the scene show the collapse affected half the tower. Piles of rubble and debris surrounded the area just outside the building.
The debris from the collapse coated cars up to two blocks away with a light layer of dust.
Fire rescue personnel conduct a search and rescue with dogs through the rubble of the Champlain Towers South Condo on Thursday
Search and rescue personnel with a K9 unit work in the rubble in search of survivors