The grandson of a couple still missing in Thursday’s Florida condo collapse says he keeps getting calls from their landline, but there is nothing but static each time he picks up.
Jake Samuelson and his family has so far received 16 calls from the destroyed apartment of his grandparents Arnie, 87, and Myriam, 81, Notkin, with the first coming in at 9.50pm on Thursday.
But when he picked up, there was no one on the other end.
‘We were just shocked, and we kind of thought nothing of it because we answered, and it was static,’ he said.
The Notkins are among the 156 people still missing after Champlain Towers South, a 12-story beachfront condominium building in the Miami suburb of Surfside, Florida, collapsed in the early hours of Thursday morning.
At least nine people have been confirmed as dead as of Sunday afternoon.
Myriam and Arnie Notkin remain among the missing in Thursday’s Miami condo collapse. Arnie is a longtime peewee football coach
Jake Samuelson with his grandparents Myriam and Arnie Notkin. Samuelson said he and his family have received 16 phone calls from the landline in their destroyed condo
By the time Samuelson and his family had made their way to the reunification center Friday morning to see if the Notkins had been found, they had received another 15 calls, all static, he told WPLG.
‘We are trying to rationalize what is happening here, we are trying to get answers,’ he told the tv station.
By Friday afternoon, the calls stopped, and calls back to the number are met with a busy signal.
Samuelson said his family reached out to a detective to see what the calls could mean but have so far not received any answers.
Teams of Israeli search-and-rescue specialists joined the hunt for further bodies Sunday, joining teams in protective gear, backed by two huge cranes and aided by sniffer dogs, who have been working nonstop in torrid heat and high humidity since the early-morning collapse (picture taken Sunday) The death toll has so far reached nine with 156 people still unaccounted for
Samuelson said he is not sure what the calls could mean, and the family has hired a detective to determine the cause
Each of the calls resulted only in static, Samuelson said, and they stopped by Friday afternoon
The Notkins are well regarded in their community, with Myriam a former banker and real estate agent and Arnie a retired and beloved physical education teacher and pee wee football coach.
Arnie taught at the Leroy D. Fienberg Elementary School in the late 1960s and early 1970s and many of his students can recall fond memories of him, the Miami Herald reported.
The report of the strange phone calls came as the death toll has continued to mount three days on from the tragedy.
Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava told a news conference Sunday afternoon that more bodies had been pulled from the wreckage, while one person died in hospital.
She said: ‘As of today, one victim passed away in the hospital, and we’ve recovered eight more victims on-site, so I am confirming today that the death toll is at nine. My deepest condolences to the friends, the families, the communities of those who lost their lives.’
Arnie Notkin is well regarded in his community as a beloved physical education teacher
Officials have not yet released the names of five of the victims to the public.
‘We are making every effort to identify those others who have been recovered, and additionally, contacting their family members as soon as we are able,’ Cava said.
Four people who lost their lives in Thursday’s tragedy at Champlain Towers South in Surfside, near Miami Beach, have been named and pictured, while a further 156 are still unaccounted for.
It came as Newsmax’s Miami correspondent Leonardo Feldman cited officials as saying that the remains of a further nine people had been recovered, which would bring the death toll up to 14.
Teams of Israeli search-and-rescue specialists are now involved in the hunt for survivors. They join teams in protective gear, backed by two huge cranes and aided by sniffer dogs, who have been working nonstop in torrid heat and high humidity since the early-morning collapse.
The victims who have been identified so far are Antonio Lozano, 83, his wife Gladys Lozano, 79; Manny Lafont, 54; and Stacie Fang, 54.