"Listen, This Is It. We’re Gonna Die," Survivors Of Florida Building Collapse Recall Harrowing Details

"Listen, This Is It. We’re Gonna Die," Survivors Of Florida Building Collapse Recall Harrowing Details

The rescue operation to save more people is ongoing.

People look at a portion of the 12-story Champlain Towers South condo building that partially collapsed on June 24, 2021 in Surfside, Florida. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

A tragedy of immense proportions unfolded in Florida in the early hours of Thursday when a 12-story condo in Surfside, partially collapsed with several people inside it. Some have been reported dead and the toll is expected to increase as authorities try to rescue people trapped in the rubble. There were however lucky survivors like Alfredo and Marian Lopez, 61 who were asleep on the sixth floor of another side of the apartment complex. They were woken up by sounds they described as loud thunder. "I woke up and thought we’re just having a bad thunderstorm,” Alfredo told Miami Herald. Two floors above him was Bruno Treptow, 62, and his wife. Bruno said, "I thought to myself, the roof is caving. I turned to my wife and she wakes up startled. And she says no it can’t be. So I hug her. I give her a hug and say, ‘Listen, this is it. We’re gonna die."


Both the families quickly got on their feet to try and find out what exactly was happening. Only when they came out of their door did they realize the gravity of the situation. Treptow said three families he knew were missing and said emotionally they may have not made out alive. “That complete side of the building was not there. The apartments were gone,” Marian, said. The Lopez family tried to go down with a dozen other people. “I could hear people crying and screaming for help,” said Alfredo. A New York Post report quoted Danielle Levin Cava, the Miami-Dade County Mayor who said, “We did identify and declare safe 102 people, and 99 we still cannot account for, some of whom may not have been in the building. Our firefighters, men, and women, are working around the clock, a huge task force of people… they are proceeding with all of their might."


She added, "They are so motivated to bring people out safely and restore them to their loved ones,” the mayor said. Pablo Rodriguez told CNN his mother and grandmother are also missing. They are among the 99 who were reported missing. He said his mother called him a day before the collapse about "creaking noises" in the building.  He said, "She just told me she had woken up around 3 [or] 4 in the morning and had heard like some creaking noises. They were loud enough to wake her. It was like a comment that she made off-hand like that's why she woke up and she wasn't able to go back to sleep afterwards...Now, in hindsight, you always wonder." He said he was holding on to hope that they would be found. 


"We are not exactly hopeful...You always hold out hope, until you definitively know but after seeing the video of the collapse, it's increasingly difficult, because they were in that section that was pancaked in." Charles Kelsi, the commissioner of Surfside, added he hoped that more people will be rescued but said, "realistically, I'm not sure how many or if anyone will be recovered and found alive." The 40-year-old building had just been checked, something Kelsi highlighted. "That's what makes me quite upset and angry, that this catastrophe could happen. While I am familiar with an assessment that was made as part of the plan to go forward with the next 40 years, there's been no indication that the building is unsound ... let alone at risk of a catastrophic collapse like this," he said.

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