Marco Rubio said Sunday he ‘understands’ why residents in the twin building of a collapsed Miami condo would be ‘concerned’, saying: ‘Obviously something very unusual happened here’.
The Republican senator spoke as residents in the block were offered the chance to evacuate, with the local mayor saying he ‘did not want to make it mandatory’ but ‘would not want to take the chance’ himself.
Champlain Towers South in Surfside, near Miami Beach, collapsed on Thursday, and of today nine people have been confirmed dead and a further 150 people are still unaccounted for.
Asked about the block’s twin building, Champlain Towers East – which has the same design and was built by the same architect – Rubio told Face The Nation: ‘I do know and understand why people living in the area, specifically the building north of it, basically a twin, would be concerned.
‘I know that if they would like to relocate FEMA will now help them with those arrangements… I have little doubt that we will know why this happen and be able to make changes to building codes if necessary to make sure it never happens again.’
Rubio told Face The Nation : ‘I do know and understand why people living in the area, specifically the building north of it, basically a twin, would be concerned’. Also pictured is the collapsed Champlain Towers South (left) and the remaining East tower spotlighted
Champlain Towers South in Surfside, near Miami Beach, collapsed on Thursday, and of today nine people have been confirmed dead and a further 150 people are still unaccounted for
How the towers looked before, with Champlain Towers South on the least and Champlain Towers East on the right
Images of Champlain Towers South in Surfside taken before the collapse (left) and after (right). The official death toll hit nine on Sunday
Surfside mayor Charles Burkett repeated the offer of a voluntary evacuation but said he would ‘rather not make it mandatory’.
He said: ‘If there are people in that building who are comfortable staying here, it seems to me the chances are low that we’d have the same exact problem with that building. But personally I would not want to take that chance.’
Speaking to ABC, he called the tragedy a ‘third world phenomenon’, adding: ‘I don’t know if I’d be comfortable staying in that building until I knew for sure that they had done a comprehensive top-to-bottom study on what’s going on with the systems in that building.’
It came as residents of the second block – built a year apart from the first – told of their fears that the same disaster could happen twice.
‘It’s scary,’ Bud Thomas, 55 told the New York Times on Sunday. ‘I’m hoping that this one doesn’t have the same structural problems as the other one.’
‘Of course I’ve been apprehensive,’ said Rafik Ayoub, 76, a second-floor resident who has been in the building for 17 years. ‘We just want to make sure that our building gets inspected thoroughly.’
Workers search in the rubble at the Champlain Towers South Condo Saturday morning as hopes fade of finding people alive
As on Sunday, 150 people remained unaccounted for. Officials said they would tell families as soon as they had information about their loved ones
Emergency services at the site of the collapsed condo on Sunday as efforts continued to recover bodies
East tower resident, Nora Zyne, 69, has three friends who remain unaccounted for.
‘I feel extremely saddened — I’ve known them for 30 years,’ she said. ‘We were all so close.’
One family of four left the East tower on Saturday. ‘We just want to move out, just for safety,’ said one member of the family, who asked not to be identified.
Earlier Saturday, Surfside mayor Charles Burkett sought to assure families that rescuers were working nonstop.
‘Nothing else on our mind, with the only objective of pulling their family members out of that rubble,’ he told ABC’s This Week.
‘We’re not going to stop doing that – not today, not tomorrow, not the next day. We’re going to keep going until everybody’s out.’
Emergency crews search the debris for signs of life Saturday. No survivors or victims have been found from the collapse site in close to two days, since the bodies of three victims were pulled from the wreckage overnight Thursda
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)
A photo of the block taken Sunday, showing residents’ belongings amid the debris as rescuers continue their hunt for bodies
The official death toll for the Miami condo collapse rose to nine on Sunday after emergency workers found four more bodies – as rescuers dug a trench through the rubble in a bid to find survivors.
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.’
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 150 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.
Antonio Lozano, 83 and Gladys Lozano, 79 were identified through rapid DNA testing that was a match with their son Sergio Lozano
Antonio and Gladys Lozano were identified through rapid DNA testing that was a match with their son Sergio Lozano (right)
Authorities confirmed Houston native Manuel LaFont, 54, who resided in an eighth floor apartment, died in the collapse, his body was recovered on Friday.
Authorities had already identified 54-year-old Stacie Fang, as one of the deceased, on Friday
Pictures of Fang and her son hugging and enjoying a day at the beach were revealed by news station WPLG 10