Miami condo collapse: Death toll rises to four with 159 still missing

Three more bodies have been pulled from the rubble of the collapsed 12-story Miami condo tower pushing the death toll up to four while officials revealed 159 people are still missing.

Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava confirmed Friday morning that rescue teams had recovered the bodies of three more victims overnight. Their identities are not yet known and officials did not confirm their ages or genders.  

This comes after one woman was confirmed dead Thursday when she was pulled from the rubble and rushed to hospital.  

Cava said it had been a ‘tragic night’ but she remained ‘very hopeful’ that more survivors will be found and insisted it was still a rescue – rather than a recovery – mission at this time. ‘We still have hope that we will find people alive,’ she said.

Rescue teams worked through the night Thursday using dogs, sonar and heavy machinery to search for signs of life as they battled with fires reigniting in the rubble.

Officials said Friday sounds had been heard coming from areas, fueling hope more people will be found alive as the number of people unaccounted for climbed to 159.

The mayor said a total of 120 people have now been accounted for ‘which is very, very good news’ but warned that the number of missing was ‘very fluid.’  

Officials had initially said 99 people unaccounted for following the building’s collapse around 1:30am Thursday morning. 

But, with the tower housing a mix of seasonal and year-round residents, authorities were unsure exactly how many people were inside when it collapsed.  

Officials said Thursday they believed the building was ‘substantially full’ at the time and had pleaded to the public for information about anyone who may have been inside.   

At least 37 people have so far been rescued from the rubble or parts of the damaged building still standing, with 11 injured and four hospitalized.  

With the search entering its second full day Friday, Joe Biden declared a state of emergency in Florida and federal assistance was drafted in to Miami while questions mounted over the cause of the tragedy and whether it could have been avoided.

It emerged Thursday that scientists had warned that the 1980s condo building was sinking and in a potentially dangerous condition one year before it collapsed, while it was due a safety certification review for the first time in 40 years. It had also just undergone improvements to its roof. 

Three more bodies have been pulled from the rubble of the collapsed 12-story Miami condo tower pushing the death toll up to four while officials revealed 159 people are still missing

Three more bodies have been pulled from the rubble of the collapsed 12-story Miami condo tower pushing the death toll up to four while officials revealed 159 people are still missing

Three more bodies have been pulled from the rubble of the collapsed 12-story Miami condo tower pushing the death toll up to four while officials revealed 159 people are still missing

Rescue teams worked through the night using dogs, sonar and heavy machinery to search for any signs of life as the number of people unaccounted for climbed to 159 Friday

Rescue teams worked through the night using dogs, sonar and heavy machinery to search for any signs of life as the number of people unaccounted for climbed to 159 Friday

Rescue teams worked through the night using dogs, sonar and heavy machinery to search for any signs of life as the number of people unaccounted for climbed to 159 Friday

Two people have so far been rescued from the concrete and mangled metal where the 12-floor building once stood, while 35 were recovered from the damaged building

Two people have so far been rescued from the concrete and mangled metal where the 12-floor building once stood, while 35 were recovered from the damaged building

Two people have so far been rescued from the concrete and mangled metal where the 12-floor building once stood, while 35 were recovered from the damaged building

Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava confirmed Friday that rescue teams had recovered the bodies of three more victims overnight

Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava confirmed Friday that rescue teams had recovered the bodies of three more victims overnight

Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava confirmed Friday that rescue teams had recovered the bodies of three more victims overnight

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Chief Ray Jadallah said Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) teams had arrived on the scene overnight following the emergency declaration and were assisting the 130 firefighters already on the ground.  

Jadallah said a fire reignited in the building overnight but ‘it did not slow down our search and rescue operation.’ 

Sounds were heard coming from the rubble, he said, but rescue teams were unable to determine if the sounds were voices of survivors or not.

‘We are listening for sounds, it’s not specifically, you know human sounds, it could be…not necessarily tapping, it could be steel…it could be some of the debris kind of raining down,’ said Jadallah. 

‘We have hope, and every time that we hear a sound, we concentrate on that area… as we continue to hear those sounds, we concentrate on those areas.’  

The focus of the search has now all turned to combing through the rubble after the parts of the building still standing were fully cleared, he added.  

‘So at this point now, all resources have been shifted to the rubble, including from above and from below,’ he said Friday. 

Heavy machinery will be used to pull some of the metal off the disaster site so teams can search for voids beneath where people could be trapped, he said.  

The White House said the president had been updated Friday morning and is expected to address the condo collapse during the day. 

Biden could visit the site of the disaster in Miami next week ‘if and when that would be appropriate’ to the officials on the ground, a White House official told CNN.     

A 2020 study from Florida International University found the Champlain Towers South sea-view condo development was sinking at a rate of about 2 millimeters a year in the 1990s because it sits on reclaimed wetlands. 

The oceanfront building was also due to have its safety recertified for the first time in 40 years this year which included the need for ‘extensive repairs for rusted steel and damaged concrete’ on parts of the structure. 

It has also been revealed that the tower had recently undergone construction work on its roof, sparking fears this may have piled on additional weight to the sinking structure. 

Authorities have not yet determined what caused the collapse and Miami-Dade police have opened an investigation – though Mayor Cava said ‘there has been no evidence found of foul play.’  

A total of 55 condos collapsed on Thursday – more than a third of the 136 within the building – with most belonging to first-time homeowners.   

The contents of condominiums spilled out onto the street in a horrific scene in the aftermath of the building's collapse in Miami. Search and rescue workers were on the job on 7pm to 7am shifts - and weren't expected to stop anytime soon

The contents of condominiums spilled out onto the street in a horrific scene in the aftermath of the building's collapse in Miami. Search and rescue workers were on the job on 7pm to 7am shifts - and weren't expected to stop anytime soon

The contents of condominiums spilled out onto the street in a horrific scene in the aftermath of the building’s collapse in Miami. Search and rescue workers were on the job on 7pm to 7am shifts – and weren’t expected to stop anytime soon

Emergency crews respond to a partially collapsed residential building in Surfside, near Miami Beach in Florida

Emergency crews respond to a partially collapsed residential building in Surfside, near Miami Beach in Florida

Emergency crews respond to a partially collapsed residential building in Surfside, near Miami Beach in Florida

Search and rescue personnel have the grim task of pulling a covered body out of the rubble after the partial collapse

Search and rescue personnel have the grim task of pulling a covered body out of the rubble after the partial collapse

Search and rescue personnel have the grim task of pulling a covered body out of the rubble after the partial collapse

The tragic scene was likely to be repeated as rescuers pulled a covered body out of the wreckage with 99 people missing

The tragic scene was likely to be repeated as rescuers pulled a covered body out of the wreckage with 99 people missing

The tragic scene was likely to be repeated as rescuers pulled a covered body out of the wreckage with 99 people missing 

A lightning strikes above the Champlain Towers South as Search and Rescue personnel work after the partial collapse of the Champlain Towers South in Surfside, north of Miami Beach

A lightning strikes above the Champlain Towers South as Search and Rescue personnel work after the partial collapse of the Champlain Towers South in Surfside, north of Miami Beach

A lightning strikes above the Champlain Towers South as Search and Rescue personnel work after the partial collapse of the Champlain Towers South in Surfside, north of Miami Beach

A shot from a video posted by the Miami Dade fire department shows firefighters in the rubble trying to find people

A shot from a video posted by the Miami Dade fire department shows firefighters in the rubble trying to find people

A shot from a video posted by the Miami Dade fire department shows firefighters in the rubble trying to find people

A Google Street View image shows the tower before its horrific collapse on Thursday

A Google Street View image shows the tower before its horrific collapse on Thursday

A Google Street View image shows the tower before its horrific collapse on Thursday

An advertisement for the Champlain Towers is seen in the 1980s. The Champlain Towers South sea-view condo development was built in 1981 by the late developer Nathan Reiber's company Nattel Construction at 8777 Collins Avenue in the southeast corner of Surfside but hasn't been updated significantly since then

An advertisement for the Champlain Towers is seen in the 1980s. The Champlain Towers South sea-view condo development was built in 1981 by the late developer Nathan Reiber's company Nattel Construction at 8777 Collins Avenue in the southeast corner of Surfside but hasn't been updated significantly since then

An advertisement for the Champlain Towers is seen in the 1980s. The Champlain Towers South sea-view condo development was built in 1981 by the late developer Nathan Reiber’s company Nattel Construction at 8777 Collins Avenue in the southeast corner of Surfside but hasn’t been updated significantly since then

 

Shimon Wdowinski, a professor in the Department of Earth and Environment at Florida International University, told USA Today he knew instantly which building had collapsed when he heard news reports because he had studied the building for the report published last year.

‘I looked at it this morning and said ‘Oh my god.’ We did detect that,’ he said.  

Wdowinski said he found that Champlain Towers South was sinking at a rate of around 2 millimeters a year in the 1990s due to its position on wetlands but that rate could have slowed down or sped up since then.

However, the land’s slow sinking alone would not have caused the building to collapse, he said.

‘It was a byproduct of analyzing the data. We saw this building had some kind of unusual movement,’ Wdowinski told USA Today.

The paper was published in April 2020 in the academic journal Ocean and Coastal Management and was part of a wider look at how buildings in Miami were sinking generally with rising sea levels caused by climate change. 

‘In some locations, as in the eastern part of the city, the detected subsidence [sinking] is of a 12-story high condominium building,’ the paper ominously warns.

It’s not immediately clear if the 12-story building referenced in the paper is the condo that collapsed. It’s also not clear if any officials took note of the paper when it comes to shoring up any dangerous conditions in the area.

In a video posted by FIU, Wdowinski said hundreds of buildings can be sinking bit-by-bit – and hundreds of buildings can have cracks, not just in Miami. 

What would cause one to collapse would be an engineering problem, he said.

Shimon Wdowinski, a professor in the Department of Earth and Environment at Florida International University, told USA Today that he knew instantly which building had collapsed when he heard news reports because he had studied the building for the report published last year

Shimon Wdowinski, a professor in the Department of Earth and Environment at Florida International University, told USA Today that he knew instantly which building had collapsed when he heard news reports because he had studied the building for the report published last year

Shimon Wdowinski, a professor in the Department of Earth and Environment at Florida International University, told USA Today that he knew instantly which building had collapsed when he heard news reports because he had studied the building for the report published last year

Wdowinski, who has previously conducted a number of land subsidence studies including one in Mexico City, noted in the video on Thursday that the tragic Mexico City Metro overpass collapse on May 3 that killed 26 people and injured 79 others had happened in an area where he had previously detected land subsidence.  

The Champlain Towers South development was built in 1981 by the late developer Nathan Reiber’s company Nattel Construction at 8777 Collins Avenue in the southeast corner of Surfside, but the structure hasn’t been updated significantly since then.  

It had a few two-bedroom units currently on the market at the time of the collapse with asking prices of $600,000 to $700,000. Some have sold for more than $2 million.

The area is a mix of new and old apartments, houses, condominiums and hotels, with restaurants and stores serving an international combination of residents and tourists.  

Local officials have said the condo block was right in the middle of going through a recertification process required by Miami Dade building code – which dictates that buildings have to be re-certified every 40 years. The building was due to be recertified for the first time since its construction this year.

Kenneth Direktor, a lawyer for the Champlain Towers South Association, told The Miami Herald on Thursday that to prepare for the recertification process an engineer had been hired to plan ‘structural and electrical’ updates but that work hadn’t started yet.

He told The New York Times that the building had been about to undergo ‘extensive repairs for rusted steel and damaged concrete’ but that he had seen nothing to suggest the collapse was related to issues identified in the engineering review.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks to the media about the 12-story Champlain Towers South condo building that partially collapsed on June 24, 2021 in Surfside, Florida

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks to the media about the 12-story Champlain Towers South condo building that partially collapsed on June 24, 2021 in Surfside, Florida

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks to the media about the 12-story Champlain Towers South condo building that partially collapsed on June 24, 2021 in Surfside, Florida

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

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

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

Hundreds of firefighters were seen walking through the wreckage, picking up other survivors and carrying them away. Authorities fear many more people may be dead or remain trapped under the rubble

Hundreds of firefighters were seen walking through the wreckage, picking up other survivors and carrying them away. Authorities fear many more people may be dead or remain trapped under the rubble

Hundreds of firefighters were seen walking through the wreckage, picking up other survivors and carrying them away. Authorities fear many more people may be dead or remain trapped under the rubble

Direktor added that any waterfront building as old as the Champlain Towers would have some corrosion and concrete deterioration and insisted on Thursday that it was too early to speculate about what had happened. 

The Miami Herald reported that Frank Morabito was the engineer retained by the Champlain towers but that he could not be reached for comment on Thursday. 

Direktor told The Washington Post on Thursday that the building was ‘thoroughly inspected’ recently as part of the recertification process and that a report on the inspection was sent to town authorities.

He described the report’s findings as ‘fairly typical’ for a building of its age and ‘did not cast doubt on its structural integrity,’ according to the outlet. 

‘There was nothing in the report that would have indicated a life-safety concern,’ he told The Washington Post.

Rescue teams rescued 35 people from the damaged building and two people, including the young boy, were pulled from the rubble in the early stages of the search operation

The surveillance video, obtained by WSVN, shows portions of the 12-story Miami Beach apartment building crumbling and sending a huge cloud of debris into the air when it collapsed in the middle of the night

The surveillance video, obtained by WSVN, shows portions of the 12-story Miami Beach apartment building crumbling and sending a huge cloud of debris into the air when it collapsed in the middle of the night

The surveillance video, obtained by WSVN, shows portions of the 12-story Miami Beach apartment building crumbling and sending a huge cloud of debris into the air when it collapsed in the middle of the night

Surfside Mayor Charles W. Burkett said roof renovations were being done on the property but that they should not have contributed to the collapse.

‘The building has literally pancaked. 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,’ he said.

He instead described the collapse 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.’ 

He suggested that potential causes could be the result of the foundations being washed out or a sinkhole. 

JJI Supply, a general contracting company based in West Palm Beach, received a notice in April about the re-roofing of the building, The Real Deal reported. The outlet obtained records showing that Debra and Edward Campany of West Palm Beach lead the general contracting business.

Bruce Masia of KW Property Management & Consulting told Florida’s Biz Journal that the ongoing roof renovation on the property could have added extra weight that the building couldn’t withstand. 

‘Buildings don’t fall down right away. They fall down because there are problems and those problems need attention,’ he said.

However, Surfside Vice Mayor Tina Paul told The Washington Post on Thursday that Champlain Towers South passed a roof inspection on Wednesday – the day before the collapse.

Jeff Rose, a contractor whose parents live in the building, told the Miami Herald that he had done renovations for some of the condos and that work on the roof had started about six weeks ago.

He added that some concrete restoration work was also being done to fix old or damaged concrete but that the concrete work was not out of the ordinary. 

‘I didn’t notice anything I haven’t seen in many other buildings in South Florida,’ Rose told the outlet.

However, an engineer who specializes in concrete repair projects told the Miami Herald that one potential structural flaw called ‘concrete spalling’ jumped out at him when he watched video of the collapse

The engineer, Greg Batista, described the flaw as ‘concrete cancer’ and said that it happens when salt water seeps into porous concrete causing steel rebar in the support beams to rust and expand – which can break the concrete and weaken the beams. 

Rescuers pull a body out of the rubble of the collapsed condo in a harrowing sight as they work through the night

Rescuers pull a body out of the rubble of the collapsed condo in a harrowing sight as they work through the night

Rescuers pull a body out of the rubble of the collapsed condo in a harrowing sight as they work through the night 

A front end loader shifts rubble mixed with furniture and household items, as rescue efforts continue where a wing of a 12-story beachfront condo building collapsed, late on Thursday, June 24, 2021, in the Surfside area of Miami

A front end loader shifts rubble mixed with furniture and household items, as rescue efforts continue where a wing of a 12-story beachfront condo building collapsed, late on Thursday, June 24, 2021, in the Surfside area of Miami

A front end loader shifts rubble mixed with furniture and household items, as rescue efforts continue where a wing of a 12-story beachfront condo building collapsed, late on Thursday, June 24, 2021, in the Surfside area of Miami

A Miami-Dade Fire Rescue team sprays water onto the rubble as rescue efforts continue where a wing of a 12-story beachfront condo building collapsed late on Thursday

A Miami-Dade Fire Rescue team sprays water onto the rubble as rescue efforts continue where a wing of a 12-story beachfront condo building collapsed late on Thursday

A Miami-Dade Fire Rescue team sprays water onto the rubble as rescue efforts continue where a wing of a 12-story beachfront condo building collapsed late on Thursday

Workers ride in a lift as smoke rises off the rubble where a wing of a 12-story beachfront condo building collapsed late on Thursday

Workers ride in a lift as smoke rises off the rubble where a wing of a 12-story beachfront condo building collapsed late on Thursday

Workers ride in a lift as smoke rises off the rubble where a wing of a 12-story beachfront condo building collapsed late on Thursday

A map shows the location of the Champlain Towers in the Miami Beach area

A map shows the location of the Champlain Towers in the Miami Beach area

A map shows the location of the Champlain Towers in the Miami Beach area

Surfside Commissioner Charles Kesl told Local 10 that there were also ‘garage underground issues’ found during various inspections recently relating to the recertification process.

‘And, to my understanding, there were some cracks from that project – minor cracks – that were just patched up. Nothing, based on my understanding, to the magnitude that would indicate that there was a structural problem that could result in something so catastrophic,’ Kesl said.

Kit Miyamoto, chair of the California Seismic Safety Commission also spoke to Anderson Cooper and said that Miami-Dade has actually good standards to examine buildings every year.

Miyamoto said it appears likely that corrosion was a culprit as the side of the building that collapsed was the side facing the ocean. Salt water could have gotten in and corroded the metal columns in the building.

If the soil is settling, that also could have affected the columns, as they get pulled in as the ground settles, Miyamoto said.

Miyamoto called rescue efforts ‘extremely dangerous’ but that ‘there’s definitely still hope’ that survivors of the building collapse could be found.

Even with concrete floors sandwiched on top of each other, air pockets are likely. People have been found in similar wreckage ‘days after,’ he said. 

Kobi Karp, an architect whose firm has worked on prominent Surfside and Miami Beach buildings, told The New York Times that the way the building had collapsed suggested a ‘possible internal failure.’

He said the internal failure may have been caused by ‘deterioration at the point where a horizontal slab of the building meets a vertical support wall’ – which he explained to the outlet could lead one of the building’s floors to suddenly fall and take the rest of the building down.

Karp said that such a deterioration could have happened either slowly over years or suddenly if the structure of the building was unintentionally damaged. 

Some people in Surfside had previously raised concerns about the integrity of the aging building. 

Barry Cohen, 63, the former vice mayor of Surfside, said he raised concerns years ago about whether nearby construction might be causing damage to the building after seeing cracked pavers on the pool deck.

In 2015, a resident also sued in 2015 claiming building management did nothing to repair cracks from water damage. 

‘Praying for a miracle’: Pregnant mother of a one-year-old daughter and married father-of-three who had been celebrating his birthday are among 159 missing people after Miami condo collapse 

Distraught friends and family are ‘praying for a miracle’ after at least 159 people went missing when a 12-story apartment block collapsed in Miami in a disaster feared to have killed scores of sleeping residents.

Among the missing is Bhavna Patel, a 38-year-old British and US citizen, her husband Vishal Patel, 42, and their one-year-old daughter Aishani, a relative told Sky News. Bhavna had been expecting another baby.

Their devastated friend Vishal Abash described Bhavna ‘as an angel, a sweet kind loving woman … very loving, very unconditional love, I never heard her say a bad word about anyone since the day I met her.’

He described the couple, who were best man and maid of honor at his wedding, as heaven-sent, adding that ‘now maybe God has come to reclaim his angels.’ 

A woman who said creaking noises woke her up the night before the building collapsed, is also unaccounted for, according to her son Pablo Rodriguez.

Both his mother and grandmother were in the section of 55 condos that collapsed at Champlain Towers at 1.30am on Thursday.

He told CNN: ‘We are praying for a miracle, but at the same time trying to be as realistic about it as possible.’ 

The president of Paraguay’s sister-in-law Sophia López Moreira, her husband Luis Pettengill, and their three young children are also still missing, Paraguay’s foreign ministry confirmed. 

Moreira is the sister of President Mario Abdo Benítez’s wife Silvana. The family are said to have been celebrating Luis’s birthday just hours before the tragedy.  

Also unaccounted for are orthopedic surgeon Brad Cohen and his brother Gary. Brad’s wife Soriya Cohen spoke to reporters and showed pictures of her loved ones on her phone while waiting at the Family Assistance Center set up for relatives. 

Bonnie and David Epstein were on the ninth floor when the building gave way. Their son, Jonathan, who lives in New York City said he hasn’t been able to contact them.

‘I’m trying to be a little optimistic, but I just don’t see it,’ he told WJXT. ‘It just doesn’t seem real, you know? Why this building? It doesn’t make sense. I don’t know. I’m struggling to make sense of it.’   

Bhavna Patel, a 38-year-old British and US citizen, her husband Vishal Patel, 42, and their one-year-old daughter Aishani remain unaccounted for. Her devastated family said that Ms Patel is ‘an angel.’ The mother is also expecting another child.

Sophia López Moreira, her husband Luis Pettengill and their three young children are among those unaccounted for in Miami after the 12-story apartment building collapsed overnight. Moreira is the sister of President Mario Abdo Benítez's wife Silvana

Sophia López Moreira, her husband Luis Pettengill and their three young children are among those unaccounted for in Miami after the 12-story apartment building collapsed overnight. Moreira is the sister of President Mario Abdo Benítez's wife Silvana

Sophia López Moreira, her husband Luis Pettengill and their three young children are among those unaccounted for in Miami after the 12-story apartment building collapsed overnight. Moreira is the sister of President Mario Abdo Benítez’s wife Silvana

Bonnie and David Epstein were on the ninth floor when the building gave way at 1.30am on Thursday. Their son, Jonathan, who lives in New York City said he hasn't been able to contact them. 'I'm trying to be a little optimistic, but I just don't see it,' he told WJXT . 'It just doesn't seem real, you know? Why this building? It doesn't make sense. I don't know. I'm struggling to make sense of it'

Bonnie and David Epstein were on the ninth floor when the building gave way at 1.30am on Thursday. Their son, Jonathan, who lives in New York City said he hasn't been able to contact them. 'I'm trying to be a little optimistic, but I just don't see it,' he told WJXT . 'It just doesn't seem real, you know? Why this building? It doesn't make sense. I don't know. I'm struggling to make sense of it'

Bonnie and David Epstein were on the ninth floor when the building gave way at 1.30am on Thursday. Their son, Jonathan, who lives in New York City said he hasn’t been able to contact them. ‘I’m trying to be a little optimistic, but I just don’t see it,’ he told WJXT . ‘It just doesn’t seem real, you know? Why this building? It doesn’t make sense. I don’t know. I’m struggling to make sense of it’

The University of Chicago chapter of the Chabad-Lubavitch Jewish movement said one of its members Ilan Naibryf and his girlfriend Deborah Berezdivin (pictured) were still missing. Writing on Instagram, the group said: 'Please pray for Ilan Ben Ronit and Deborah Bat Talia Chaya. They are dear friends, gems whom we love dearly. Ilan is a student at UChicago and the President of our Chabad Student Board. They are both family.'

The University of Chicago chapter of the Chabad-Lubavitch Jewish movement said one of its members Ilan Naibryf and his girlfriend Deborah Berezdivin (pictured) were still missing. Writing on Instagram, the group said: 'Please pray for Ilan Ben Ronit and Deborah Bat Talia Chaya. They are dear friends, gems whom we love dearly. Ilan is a student at UChicago and the President of our Chabad Student Board. They are both family.'

The University of Chicago chapter of the Chabad-Lubavitch Jewish movement said one of its members Ilan Naibryf and his girlfriend Deborah Berezdivin (pictured) were still missing. Writing on Instagram, the group said: ‘Please pray for Ilan Ben Ronit and Deborah Bat Talia Chaya. They are dear friends, gems whom we love dearly. Ilan is a student at UChicago and the President of our Chabad Student Board. They are both family.’

Frankie Kleiman and his wife and Annie Ortiz

Frankie Kleiman and his wife and Annie Ortiz

Frankie's brother Jay Kleiman

Frankie's brother Jay Kleiman

Frankie Kleiman and his wife Annie Ortiz (left), along with Annie’s son Luis, are believed to have been inside the building when it collapsed. Frankie’s brother Jay (right) was visiting for a funeral. Frankie lives on the same floor as their mother Nancy

Luis Andres Bermudez, 26, who has muscular dystrophy, is missing along with his mother Annie Ortiz, wife of Frankie Kleiman who was also inside the building

Luis Andres Bermudez, 26, who has muscular dystrophy, is missing along with his mother Annie Ortiz, wife of Frankie Kleiman who was also inside the building

Luis Andres Bermudez, 26, who has muscular dystrophy, is missing along with his mother Annie Ortiz, wife of Frankie Kleiman who was also inside the building 

Jay and Frankie Kleiman were believed to have been inside the building with their mother Nancy Kress Levin (pictured) when it collapsed

Jay and Frankie Kleiman were believed to have been inside the building with their mother Nancy Kress Levin (pictured) when it collapsed

Jay and Frankie Kleiman were believed to have been inside the building with their mother Nancy Kress Levin (pictured) when it collapsed

Edgar Gonzalez, who lived on the ninth floor with his family, is still unaccounted, his relatives told NBC. Gonzalez's wife and daughter are currently being treated in hospital, according to the family

Edgar Gonzalez, who lived on the ninth floor with his family, is still unaccounted, his relatives told NBC. Gonzalez's wife and daughter are currently being treated in hospital, according to the family

Dr Brad Cohen, who is an orthopedic surgeon at a local hospital, hadn't been heard from since 3am. His wife, Soriya Cohen, said he lived on the 10th floor

Dr Brad Cohen, who is an orthopedic surgeon at a local hospital, hadn't been heard from since 3am. His wife, Soriya Cohen, said he lived on the 10th floor

Edgar Gonzalez (left), who lived on the ninth floor with his family, is still unaccounted, his relatives told NBC. Dr Brad Cohen (right), who is an orthopedic surgeon at a local hospital, hadn’t been heard from since 3am. His wife, Soriya Cohen, said he lived on the 10th floor

Among the missing are orthopedic surgeon Brad Cohen and his brother Gary (Gary is pictured). Brad's wife Soriya Cohen spoke to reporters and showed pictures of her loved ones on her phone while waiting at the Family Assistance Center set up for relatives.

Among the missing are orthopedic surgeon Brad Cohen and his brother Gary (Gary is pictured). Brad's wife Soriya Cohen spoke to reporters and showed pictures of her loved ones on her phone while waiting at the Family Assistance Center set up for relatives.

Among the missing are orthopedic surgeon Brad Cohen and his brother Gary (Gary is pictured). Brad’s wife Soriya Cohen spoke to reporters and showed pictures of her loved ones on her phone while waiting at the Family Assistance Center set up for relatives.

Soriya Cohen holds up a picture of her husband, Brad

Soriya Cohen holds up a picture of her husband, Brad

Soriya Cohen holds up a picture of her husband, Brad 

The synagogue at Bal Harbour, about eight blocks from Champlain Towers, has opened it doors to help those affected with food supplies and other donations. Around a dozen members of the synagogue are unaccounted for.

Chani Lipskar, the wife of the rabbi, told the South Florida Sun Sentinel that thousands around the world were praying for not just the missing Jews, but everyone else impacted by the tragedy.

Families have started sharing images of their missing relatives online as firefighters continue trawling through the wreckage. Many of their photos have been compiled by CBS4 reporter Frances Wang. 

Carlos Pou, who lives in Baco Raton, told The Miami Herald he knew at least six people who were living at or visiting the building at the time of the collapse.

He identified brothers Jay and Frankie Kleiman, their mother Nancy Kress Levin, and Frankie’s wife Annie Ortiz and her son Luis Bermúdez.

Frankie lived on the same floor as his mother Nancy and his brother Jay had been visiting for a funeral, Pou said.  He said he’d left several voicemails but had not been able to get hold of the Kleimans.

A friend of the family told the Herald: ‘They are young people with kids. Frankie’s daughter is pregnant.’ 

The University of Chicago chapter of the Chabad-Lubavitch Jewish movement said one of its members Ilan Naibryf and his girlfriend Deborah Berezdivin had also been inside the building.

Writing on Instagram, the group said: ‘Please pray for Ilan Ben Ronit and Deborah Bat Talia Chaya. They are dear friends, gems whom we love dearly. Ilan is a student at UChicago and the President of our Chabad Student Board. They are both family.’  

Andres Galfrascoli (left) his partner Fabian Nunez, right, and their newly adopted daughter Sofia, who was six, died while visiting their apartment in Florida to get vaccinated

Andres Galfrascoli (left) his partner Fabian Nunez, right, and their newly adopted daughter Sofia, who was six, died while visiting their apartment in Florida to get vaccinated

Andres Galfrascoli (left) his partner Fabian Nunez, right, and their newly adopted daughter Sofia, who was six, died while visiting their apartment in Florida to get vaccinated

The family of Luis Barth say the 51-year-old was visiting from Colombia and was staying in a friend's condo with his wife and daughter. The condo was on the collapsed side and no one has heard from any of them

The family of Luis Barth say the 51-year-old was visiting from Colombia and was staying in a friend's condo with his wife and daughter. The condo was on the collapsed side and no one has heard from any of them

The family of Luis Barth say the 51-year-old was visiting from Colombia and was staying in a friend’s condo with his wife and daughter. The condo was on the collapsed side and no one has heard from any of them

Ilan Naibryf and his girlfriend Deborah Berezdivin have not been heard from and were staying in the apartment building

Ilan Naibryf and his girlfriend Deborah Berezdivin have not been heard from and were staying in the apartment building

Ilan Naibryf and his girlfriend Deborah Berezdivin have not been heard from and were staying in the apartment building

Ricky and Maituca Rovirosa are also missing, family members told Local 10

Ricky and Maituca Rovirosa are also missing, family members told Local 10

Ricky and Maituca Rovirosa are also missing, family members told Local 10

Also missing is a famed Argentinian plastic surgeon, his partner, and their newly-adopted six year-old daughter.

That surgeon – Andres Galfrasconi, 45 – was visiting Miami with his partner Fabian Nunez, 55, and their daughter Sofia, six, to receive their COVID-19 vaccines. 

Argentinian singer Julia Zenko was one of Galfrasconi’s clients, with Zyri.net reporting she was ‘very distressed’ by his disappearance following the collapse.  

The couple and their daughter were staying at an apartment owned by an unidentified friend, who says she has not been able to contact them. 

Judy Spiegel, 66, the wife of former Erlanger Health System Chief Executive Officer Kevin Spiegel is also missing. 

He confirmed in a text message to WRCBTV that she was still unaccounted for Thursday afternoon. 

The two lived together. 

‘I’m flying to Miami now,’ he wrote. Please pray for her.’ 

Edgar Gonzalez, who lived on the ninth floor with his family, is still unaccounted, his relatives told NBC

Gonzalez’s wife and daughter are currently being treated in hospital, according to the family.  

Graciella Catarossi and her daughter Estella are also missing. They were staying with Graciella's elderly parents, who have not been identified, but are also unaccounted for

Graciella Catarossi and her daughter Estella are also missing. They were staying with Graciella's elderly parents, who have not been identified, but are also unaccounted for

Estella Catarossi

Estella Catarossi

Graciella Catarossi (left) and her daughter Estella (right) are also missing. They were staying with Graciella’s elderly parents, who have not been identified, but are also unaccounted for

The family of Luis Barth say the 51-year-old was visiting from Colombia and was staying in a friend’s condo with his wife and daughter. 

Barth’s brother Sergio, who lives in Miami, told the New York Times the condo they were staying in was on the collapsed side and that he has been unable to reach him.  

Theresa Valasquez, 36, was visiting her parents Julio, 67, and Angela, 60, when the towers collapsed. 

Her brother David Velasquez wrote on Facebook that his sister had arrived at their parents’ condo on Wednesday, and have not been found.

Alfredo and his son Lorenzo Leone are also missing. A friend told CBS4 that their mother was out of town and is flying back

Alfredo and his son Lorenzo Leone are also missing. A friend told CBS4 that their mother was out of town and is flying back

Alfredo and his son Lorenzo Leone are also missing. A friend told CBS4 that their mother was out of town and is flying back

Judy Spiegel, 66, the wife of former Erlanger Health System Chief Executive Officer Kevin Spiegel is also missing

Judy Spiegel, 66, the wife of former Erlanger Health System Chief Executive Officer Kevin Spiegel is also missing

Estelle Hedaya

Estelle Hedaya

Judy Spiegel, 66, (left) the wife of former Erlanger Health System Chief Executive Officer Kevin Spiegel, and Estelle Hedaya (right) are also missing. A friend told CBS 4 that she was on the phone with Hedaya for an hour and a half last night, but is currently unable to get hold of her

Elaine Sabino was on the 12th floor and is still missing

Elaine Sabino was on the 12th floor and is still missing

Linda March was living in penthouse 4 of the condo. March is an attorney who had recently moved back from Miami from New York, a friend told Local 10.

Linda March was living in penthouse 4 of the condo. March is an attorney who had recently moved back from Miami from New York, a friend told Local 10.

Elaine Sabino (left) lived on the 12 floor and Linda March (right) lived in penthouse 4 of the condo. March is an attorney who had recently moved back from Miami from New York, a friend told Local 10. Both are still missing 

Also missing is Estelle Hedaya. 

A friend of Hedaya told CBS4 that the two had spoken on the phone for an hour and a half last night, but is currently unable to get hold of her. 

Graciella Catarossi, and her daughter Estella are also missing.

A friend told Local 10 that the two were staying with Graciella’s elderly parents, who are also unaccounted for.   

Luis Andres Bermudez, 26, is missing along with his mother Ana Ortiz.

Bermudez reportedly has muscular dystrophy and cannot walk or call for help, a cousin told CBS4.

Alfredo Leone and his young son Lorenzo are also unaccounted for. 

A friend told CBS4 that their mother was out of town and is flying back.

Elaine Sabino was on the 12th floor and is also still missing. 

Linda March was living in penthouse 4 of the condo.

March is an attorney who had recently moved back from Miami from New York, a friend told Local 10. 

Brothers Frankie and Jay Kleinman as well as their mother Nancy Kress Levin are also missing.  

They were with Annie Ortiz, her son Luis Bermudez as well as Deborah Berezdivin. 

A friend told the Miami Herald that all six are Puerto Rican. 

At least 27 people from Latin American nations are among the missing, the Herald also reported. 

Myriam and Arnie Notkin are among the missing. Arnie is a longtime peewee football coach in Flamingo Park, NBC reported

Myriam and Arnie Notkin are among the missing. Arnie is a longtime peewee football coach in Flamingo Park, NBC reported

Myriam and Arnie Notkin are among the missing. Arnie is a longtime peewee football coach in Flamingo Park, NBC reported

Raymond and Mercedes Urgelles. Their daughter Jenny has been trying to reach them since 5.30am, according to NBC

Raymond and Mercedes Urgelles. Their daughter Jenny has been trying to reach them since 5.30am, according to NBC

Raymond and Mercedes Urgelles. Their daughter Jenny has been trying to reach them since 5.30am, according to NBC

Theresa Velasquez  was missing along with her parents Julio and Angela Velasquez. Theresa was visiting them during the collapse and the three have not been heard from

Theresa Velasquez  was missing along with her parents Julio and Angela Velasquez. Theresa was visiting them during the collapse and the three have not been heard from

Julio and Angela Velasquez

Julio and Angela Velasquez

Theresa Velasquez (left) was missing along with her parents Julio and Angela Velasquez (right). Theresa was visiting them during the collapse and the three have not been heard from, her brother posted on Facebook

Nicky Langesfeld and Luis Sadovnic were living on the eighth floor, CBS4 Miami reported

Nicky Langesfeld and Luis Sadovnic were living on the eighth floor, CBS4 Miami reported

Nicky Langesfeld and Luis Sadovnic were living on the eighth floor, CBS4 Miami reported

Moises Rodan, 28, lived in unit 308, according to CBS4 Miami

Moises Rodan, 28, lived in unit 308, according to CBS4 Miami

Moises Rodan, 28, lived in unit 308, according to CBS4 Miami

More than 100 people gathered at a family reunification center by mid-morning on Thursday as they awaited news on their family and friends. 

Authorities said 53 people had been accounted for by Thursday afternoon but 159 who are believed to have lived in the building were still missing as of Friday morning. It was unclear whether any, or all of them, were inside at the time of the collapse.  

The tower has a mix of seasonal and year-round residents. 

Officials say the building keeps a log of guests staying but does not keep track of when owners are in residence. 

Thirty-five people were rescued from the damaged building and 14 people, including a young boy, were pulled from the rubble in the early stages of the search operation. Two of those people, including the woman who has since died, were taken to hospital. Three more fatalities were confirmed Friday morning.

Authorities fear many more people may be dead or remain trapped under the rubble and have already 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.  

Relatives continuously tried to called their missing loved ones throughout Thursday while others showed off photos of their family and friends in case any one had seen them

Relatives continuously tried to called their missing loved ones throughout Thursday while others showed off photos of their family and friends in case any one had seen them

Luz Marina holds a picture of her aunt, Marina Azen 

Marina Azen has been living in the condo for about 20 years, family told CBS4 Miami

Marina Azen has been living in the condo for about 20 years, family told CBS4 Miami

Michael Altman

Michael Altman

Marina Azen and Michael Altman are also missing. Azen has been living in the condo for about 20 years, family told CBS4 Miami

Crowds of people were gathering at a family reunification center set up nearby as they awaited news on their family and friends

Crowds of people were gathering at a family reunification center set up nearby as they awaited news on their family and friends

Crowds of people were gathering at a family reunification center set up nearby as they awaited news on their family and friends

Authorities say the building was 'substantially full' when it collapsed. Of the building's 136 apartments, 55 were destroyed. Families are pictured at a family reunification center on Thursday morning

Authorities say the building was 'substantially full' when it collapsed. Of the building's 136 apartments, 55 were destroyed. Families are pictured at a family reunification center on Thursday morning

Authorities say the building was ‘substantially full’ when it collapsed. Of the building’s 136 apartments, 55 were destroyed. Families are pictured at a family reunification center on Thursday morning

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Miami PD open probe into collapse of condo missing as desperate families gather at the scene with pictures of loved ones and dramatic footage of disintegration emerges 

Police have opened an investigation into the 12-story Miami apartment building collapse as hundreds of rescue crews continue to scour through tons of rubble and desperate families wait for news of any survivors. 

Authorities, however, have warned the death toll could climb sharply given there were 99 people still missing as of Thursday afternoon. It was unclear whether any, or all of them, were inside the building of the collapse.

Horrifying surveillance footage, obtained by WSVN, captured the moment the building collapsed, sending a huge cloud of debris into the air and officials said the level of destruction made it seem like a ‘bomb went off’.

Rescue teams are currently entering the rubble in groups of 10 to 12 at a time with dogs and other equipment as they trawl the wreckage for any survivors. Sources told NBC that search a dog had tracked two potential survivors as of Thursday afternoon.

Hundreds of distraught relatives gathered at a family reunification center holding photos of their loved ones as they awaited news.

As the desperate search for survivors continued, police were already probing the cause of the collapse.

The building side closest to the ocean collapsed in the middle of the night. Rescuers are hoping to find people in air pockets

The building side closest to the ocean collapsed in the middle of the night. Rescuers are hoping to find people in air pockets

The building side closest to the ocean collapsed in the middle of the night. Rescuers are hoping to find people in air pockets

Hundreds of distraught relatives gathered at a family reunification center holding photos of their loved ones as they awaited news

Hundreds of distraught relatives gathered at a family reunification center holding photos of their loved ones as they awaited news

Hundreds of distraught relatives gathered at a family reunification center holding photos of their loved ones as they awaited news

Officials said the building, built in 1981, was going through a recertification process and that engineers had been hired to complete electrical and structural repairs.

Experts who had studied the building as recently as last year said the building was unstable and had been sinking since the 1990s.

Thirty-five people were rescued from the damaged building including a young boy, who was photographed being pulled from the rubble in the early stages of the rescue operation. Two of those people, including the woman who has since died, were taken to hospital.

Authorities say 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 had earlier said rescue teams had made contact with some survivors 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.

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.

Hundreds of people were gathering at a family reunification center set up nearby as they awaited news on their family and friends.

The president of Paraguay’s sister-in-law and her family, as well as a celebrity plastic surgeon from Argentina are among those still missing.

Sophia López Moreira, her husband Luis Pettengill and their three young children are still missing, Paraguay’s foreign ministry confirmed.

Moreira is the sister of President Mario Abdo Benítez’s wife Silvana. The family owned a condo in the building.

Also missing is a famed Argentinian plastic surgeon, his partner, and their newly-adopted six year-old daughter.

That surgeon – Andres Galfrasconi, 45 – was visiting Miami with his partner Fabian Nunez, 55, and their daughter Sofia, six, to receive their COVID-19 vaccines.

Relatives continuously tried to called their missing loved ones throughout Thursday while others showed off photos of their family and friends in case any one had seen them

Relatives continuously tried to called their missing loved ones throughout Thursday while others showed off photos of their family and friends in case any one had seen them

Relatives continuously tried to called their missing loved ones throughout Thursday while others showed off photos of their family and friends in case any one had seen them

Relatives continuously tried to called their missing loved ones throughout Thursday while others showed off photos of their family and friends in case any one had seen them

Relatives continuously tried to called their missing loved ones throughout Thursday while others showed off photos of their family and friends in case any one had seen them

Authorities have not yet determined what caused the building to collapse but confirmed that renovations had been underway on the roof in recent weeks. 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 building been subject to various inspections recently due to the recertification process that has to occur every 40 years.

‘There were garage underground issues related to that, to make sure that it was done soundly,’ Surfside Commissioner Charles Kesl told Local 10. ‘And, to my understanding, there were some cracks from that project – minor cracks – that were just patched up. Nothing, based on my understanding, to the magnitude that would indicate that there was a structural problem that could result in something so catastrophic.’

Shimon Wdowinski, a professor in the Department of Earth and Environment at Florida International University, told USA Today that he studied the building last year as part of a report on how buildings in Miami were sinking generally with rising sea levels.

Wdowinski said in his study that the building had been sinking since the 1990s.

He said on Thursday he knew instantly which building had collapsed when he heard news reports of it.

‘I looked at it this morning and said ‘Oh my god’. We did detect that,’ he said.

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.

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

The collapse left a number of units in the still-standing part of the building exposed with furniture visible inside some apartments

Several air-conditioning units were hanging from the building after the building collapsed

Several air-conditioning units were hanging from the building after the building collapsed

Several air-conditioning units were hanging from the building after the building collapsed

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.

Barry Cohen, 63, said he and his wife were asleep in the building when he first heard what he thought was a crack of lightning.

The couple went onto their balcony, then opened the door to the building’s hallway to find ‘a pile of rubble and dust and smoke billowing around’.

‘I couldn´t walk out past my doorway,’ said Cohen, the former vice mayor of Surfside. ‘A gaping hole of rubble.’

He and his wife eventually made it to the basement and found rising water there. They returned upstairs, screamed for help and were eventually brought to safety by firefighters using a cherry-picker.

Cohen said he raised concerns years ago about whether nearby construction might be causing damage to the building after seeing cracked pavers on the pool deck.

Jennifer Carr was asleep in a neighboring building when she was awakened by a loud boom and her room shook. She thought it was a thunderstorm but checked the weather app on her phone and saw none. The building´s fire alarms went off, and she and her family went outside and saw the collapse.

‘It was devastation,’ Carr said. ‘People were running and screaming.’

Nicolas Fernandez was waiting early Thursday for word on close family friends who lived in the collapsed section of the building.

‘Since it happened, I´ve been calling them nonstop, just trying to ring their cellphones as much as we can to hep the rescue to see if they can hear the cellphones.’

Crowds of people were gathering at a family reunification center set up nearby as they awaited news on their family and friends

Crowds of people were gathering at a family reunification center set up nearby as they awaited news on their family and friends

Crowds of people were gathering at a family reunification center set up nearby as they awaited news on their family and friends

Authorities say the building was 'substantially full' when it collapsed. Of the building's 136 apartments, 55 were destroyed. Families are pictured at a family reunification center on Thursday morning

Authorities say the building was 'substantially full' when it collapsed. Of the building's 136 apartments, 55 were destroyed. Families are pictured at a family reunification center on Thursday morning

Authorities say the building was ‘substantially full’ when it collapsed. Of the building’s 136 apartments, 55 were destroyed. Families are pictured at a family reunification center on Thursday morning

Santo Mejil, 50, told the Miami Herald his wife called him from the building, where she was working as an aide for an elderly woman.

‘She said she heard a big explosion. It felt like an earthquake,’ Mejil told the newspaper. He said she later called him and said rescuers were bringing her down.

One witness, who was staying in the south Florida island city with his family, was in a neighboring building at the time and said the collapse sounded and felt like a tornado or earthquake.

‘It was the craziest thing I ever heard in my life,’ he told Fox News.

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: ‘They are able to rescue some people but I heard some screams.’

When the building initially collapsed, more than 80 rescue units were on the scene, including designated teams skilled in retrieving bodies from wreckages.

The building, a twelve-story apartment block called Champlain Towers South (pictured), collapsed in the early hours of this morning.

The sea-view condo development was built in 1981 in the southeast corner of Surfside, on the beach. It had a few two-bedroom units currently on the market, with asking prices of $600,000 to $700,000.

The area is a mix of new and old apartments, houses, condominiums and hotels, with restaurants and stores serving an international combination of residents and tourists.

The community provides a stark contrast from bustle and glitz of South Beach with a slower paced neighborhood feel.  

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