Miami: Eyewitness reacts to building collapse in Surfside

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Unconfirmed reports suggested the man was involved in efforts to rescue survivors from the Surfside condo. The devastated Floridian took off his jacket and laid it across the body of his child and placed a small American flag on top. The remains of the little girl were discovered by rescue workers on Thursday night at the Champlain South Tower.

Police and firefighters formed a guard of honour as the man walked past with his daughter’s body on a stretcher.

Francis Suarez, City of Miami Mayor, confirmed the grim discovery at a press briefing today.

He said: “The City of Miami Fire Department has lost a seven-year-old daughter of one of our own firefighters.

“She was recovered last night by members of our search and rescue team in Florida Task Force Two.

“Our chief is asking that all of you respect the privacy of the immediate family as well as our fire department, which is understandably grieving.”

He added: “I am the father of two children and I have a seven-year-old son and the thought of losing him in this way is unimaginable.

“This tragedy has haunted so many of us because so many of us know someone who has been in the building or affected by this tragedy … now it is a member of our fire service, our family.”

The death toll stands at 20 while 128 people remain unaccounted for.

A 49-year-old woman from Paraguay has said she will fly to Miami as her daughter remains missing.

Juana Villalba’s trip will be the first time she leaves her home country and will be a journey she never wanted to make.

Juana, who resides in a small rural town about 125 miles east of capital city Asuncion, will leave for the US on Saturday in search of news of her only daughter, Leidy Luna.

The young woman disappeared in the rubble of the building that collapsed last week in Miami.

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She will be accompanied by Lourdes Luna, Leidy’s cousin.

Both obtained an emergency visa to enter the United States on Friday, a day after getting their first-ever passports.

Lourdes said: “These days have been terrible for us, it is all very desperate.

“Her mother has not even had time to cry.”

Lourdes told Reuters as she returned from Asuncion to her home in Eugenio A. Garay to prepare for the trip.

Leidy, a nurse, went to Miami with the sister-in-law of Paraguay’s president and her husband to help care for their three children.

The entire family is missing after the collapse of the Champlain Towers South condo in Surfside.

US President Joe Biden this week paid a short visit to the site of the collapse.

He pledged federal assistance and offered comfort to the families of those killed and missing in the wake of the June 24 disaster.

Mr Biden travelled to Florida to reprise the role of “consoler-in-chief” a week after the 12-story Champlain Towers South condo partially caved in overnight as residents slept.

He acknowledged that hopes of finding any survivors dimmed with each passing day, but said it was possible someone might still be pulled out alive.

He said: “Hope springs eternal.”

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