Aerial photo of the Champlain Towers South Condo building, which collapsed Thursday, in Surfside, Florida. (Amy Beth Bennett / AP)

A shapeless mass of rubble, like a millefeuille of concrete and steel in which one can painfully distinguish the floors that have come crashing into each other. This is all that’s left of an apartment building in Surfside, near Miami, that suddenly collapsed around 1? ??? hâ ???? 30 (local time), in the night from Wednesday to Thursday, in a large cloud of dust.

For more than 24 hours, firefighters and dog units have been active in the ruins in search of any survivors. The disaster, the cause of which is not yet known, killed at least one person, but the toll is likely to be much heavier. The authorities are indeed without news of 99 people, without it being known for sure if all were in the building at the time of the tragedy.

Authorities in several Latin American countries have confirmed that a number of their nationals reside or are located in the Champlain Towers South complex, to which the property belongs. collapsed building located north of Miami Beach. Among the missing are nine Argentines, six Paraguayans, six Colombians, six Venezuelans and three Uruguayans. The sister of the First Lady of Paraguay, her husband and their three children are among them, confirmed the Paraguayan Minister of Foreign Affairs.

According to Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio, “almost a third of the missing [â ?? ¦] are foreigners.” “We are working with the consulates of various countries in Latin America to help family members of victims who need to come to the United States to obtain visas,” he tweeted.

Casi un tercio de los desaparecidos ahora reportados despuà © s of the tragedia of Surfside its extranjeros.Estamos trabajando con los consulados de varios paÃses en LATAM para ayudarles to obtain visas a los miembros de las familias de las vÃctimas as necessary via. UU.

In a press conference Thursday, Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis praised the “rapid response” relief, which “saved lives.” Miami-Dade County Rescue Services Deputy Chief Ray Jadallah said 35 people were evacuated from the building, some of them from the collapsed part. About ten injured were treated on the spot, and at least two taken to hospital.

Built in 1981, the twelve-storey oceanfront complex had over 130 apartments. Almost half of them collapsed within seconds, trapping the sleepy residents.

“We remain hopeful of being able to identify other survivors,” said Governor DeSantis, noting that rescuers had “made contact” with people trapped in the deaths. combres. Ray Jadallah said his teams heard “sounds and noises” but no voices. “We are preparing for bad news, given the destruction we have seen,” said Ron DeSantis.

According to an official from Surfside, a town of around 6,000 inhabitants with a large Jewish community and many Latino Americans, the search could take at least a year. week in the rubble heap, very unstable and high as two floors.

Once these research and clearing operations are completed, it will undoubtedly take months, if not years, to try to understand the causes of this collapse, which is as brutal as it is unusual. In a study completed last year, a Florida International University researcher determined that the Champlain Towers South complex, built on top of the hill old swamps, sank by two millimeters per year between 1993 and 1999. A phenomenon which has since been able to slow down, or on the contrary to accentuate, and provoke failures in the structure of the building.

“The scale of the collapse is mind-boggling [â ?? ¦] Buildings like that don’t fall in America,” said the mayor. of Surfside, Charles Burkett, in an interview with CBS. It’s like a bomb has gone off. Like an earthquake. “