Twelve-story Miami Beach apartment building collapses sparking huge search and rescue operation amid fears many people are dead or trapped in rubble
- An apartment block collapsed in early hours of the morning near 88th street and Collins Avenue, Miami Beach
- The collapsed building is believed to be a twelve-story apartment complex called Champlain Towers South
- Miami-Dade Fire Rescue confirmed that more than 80 units remain on scene as rescue operation is underway
- There are fears that many people may be dead or remain trapped beneath the rubble at the apartment block
A massive rescue operation is underway after an apartment building close to Miami Beach collapsed in the early hours of this morning.
The ocean-front building, a twelve-story apartment complex called Champlain Towers South, has partially collapsed, fire rescue services have confirmed.
Neighbours say the building was mostly occupied but it is not known what caused the tower which was built in 1981 near 88th street and Collins Avenue in Surfside, Florida, to collapse.
There are fears that many people may be dead or remain trapped beneath the rubble at Champlain Towers South as a search-and-rescue operation by local authorities got underway.
One witness, who was staying in the south Florida island city with his family, was in a neighbouring building at the time and said the collapse sounded and felt like a tornado or earthquake, Fox News reported.
The witness claimed that much of the building was occupied at the time of the collapse, which he estimated to have occurred at around 1.20am.
He told the publication: ‘It was the craziest thing I ever heard in my life.’
Shocking video footage showed a boy being pulled from the wreckage by firefighters as the huge search-and-rescue operation continued, according to NBC6.
A rescue operation is underway after an apartment building near 88th street and Collins Avenue in Miami Beach collapsed (pictured) in the early hours of this morning
The building, a twelve-story apartment block called Champlain Towers South (pictured), collapsed in the early hours of this morning. It is not known what caused the collapse
At least two people and a firefighter have been taken to hospital but officials have not yet confirmed any details about potential casualties, according to local media.
Pictures and videos from the scene suggest a full section of the tower collapsed, which left huge piles of debris lying at the corner of Collins Avenue as a huge search-and-rescue operation is underway.
Witnesses claimed to have heard people screaming beneath the rubble during frantic efforts to free them from the wreckage of the building.
One witness told NBC News correspondent Sam Brock: ‘They are able to rescue some people but I heard some screams.’
Miami-Dade Fire Rescue said more than 80 units were on the scene, including Technical Rescue Teams, which are trained ‘specially trained in the treatment and removal of victims trapped in complex or confined spaces’.
Freelance journalist Joel Franco, who was on the scene, claimed that the fire department had managed to rescue some people from their balconies.
Witnesses claim to have heard people screaming beneath the rubble (left and right) during frantic efforts to free them from the wreckage of the building
He tweeted: ‘MDFR [Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Department] now rescuing people from the balcony.’
Mr Franco said the rescue operation was a ‘multi-agency effort’ as he claimed to have seen units from Pompano Beach Fire, Miami Fire, Davie Fire and Miami-Dade Fire Rescue at the scene.
A statement from Miami-Dade Fire Rescue read: ‘We are on scene of a partial building collapse near 88 Street & Collins Avenue.
‘Over 80 MDFR units, including Technical Rescue Teams, are on scene with assistance from municipal fire departments.’
Southbound traffic is being diverted west on 96th Street and northbound traffic is being diverted at 85th Street and Collins Avenue as authorities remain on the scene, Miami-Dade Fire Rescue confirmed.
There are fears that many people may be dead or remain trapped beneath the rubble (pictured) at Champlain Towers South following the collapse
Miami-Dade Fire Rescue confirmed that more than 80 units (right), including Technical Rescue Teams, were at the scene of the collapse (left)
Authorities have not yet provided any information on potential casualties as the situation is ongoing.
Miami Beach Police Department said: ‘MBPD and @MiamiBeachFire are assisting the Town of Surfside at a partial building collapse located at 8777 Collins Avenue in Surfside, Florida.
‘Multiple police and fire agencies from across Miami-Dade are assisting. Please follow @MiamiDadeFire for updated information.’
Champlain Towers South, which was built in 1981, is a modern apartment complex comprised of 136 residences spread across 12 floors, according to Miami Real Estate Trends.