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Building Collapse in Surfside, Florida, Leaves 159 Missing and Four Dead; Search and Rescue Efforts for Missing in Florida Building Collapse Continue; Some Families of Missing in Florida Building Collapse Criticize Slow Pace of Information from Authorities; Derek Chauvin Sentenced to 22-And-A-Half Years for Killing of George Floyd; Missouri Democratic State Representative Tracy McCreery Interviewed on New State Law Intended to Block Federal Gun Laws; Justice Department Suing State of Georgia over New Restrictive Voting Law; Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava Speak at Press Conference regarding Continuing Search and Rescue Efforts in Rubble of Collapsed Building. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired June 26, 2021 - 10:00   ET




BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. It's Saturday, June 26th. I'm Boris Sanchez coming to you live from Surfside, Florida, where we're stuck in a state of anxious waiting. Nearly 60 hours after a deadly building collapse, every moment is precious, as rescuers desperately search for any sign of life.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Erica Hill in New York this morning. Thanks for joining us this hour. We are waiting at this moment for a briefing from officials in Surfside. All of this as families continue to hold out hope for their loved ones.

SANCHEZ: And that is all many of them have at this point. The one thing we've heard again and again from family members of those missing is a demand for answers, why this happened, and could it have been prevented. This morning, we are learning more about this building, and getting a potential new clue that could give us some insight, as you take a look at just the size and scale of the devastation.

Back in 2018, an engineer warned of major structural damage at the building. Now, at that time, there was no warning of a collapse risk, but managers were urged to make repairs. And we understand that work was about to get under way.

Unfortunately, experts caution it could take months to know for sure what actually happened here in Surfside. The mayor says he is now looking into that report from the engineer. He's also told us that he's recommending residents of a sister building that's nearly identical to this one just a block away evacuate their homes. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MAYOR CHARLES BURKETT, SURFSIDE, FLORIDA: It has the same name, had the same developer. It probably had the same materials. It probably had the same plans. And people are asking me, is the building safe? And I can't tell them it is safe. I can't tell them that.


SANCHEZ: Sadly, this is a painstakingly slow process of sifting through rubble. And for family members of those unaccounted for, it is a difficult time. There's a lot of uncertainty, and there is anger in some cases.

Here's what we know -- 159 people still unaccounted for, at least four people dead. Rescue crews have been working nonstop, carefully going through each piece of debris, as fires, smoky conditions, and bad weather have complicated their work. Nearby, just steps from where we're standing right now, there's a wall honoring the missing that's been set up. Officials are urging families to keep faith, hoping that there will be a miracle here.

We have a team of reporters standing by to bring you all the latest on this search and rescue effort here in Surfside. CNN's Nick Valencia is at the site that has been set up for families. We're awaiting word about their loved ones. And also joining us is CNN's Rosa Flores, who has been on the scene in Surfside since this tragedy began to unfold. Rosa, we're nearly 60 hours into this rescue mission now. What updates are authorities giving us at this point?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Boris, what I'm really curious about is what authorities are going to say when media, when reporters like myself, ask them about who knew about this report that you just talked about extensively, and why was something not done sooner? You read this report, and there are descriptions of major structural damage, exposed, deteriorating rebar. And the description of some of these really raises questions not only about what could have been done after, but how it could be impacting search and rescue efforts right now, because as you read that report, it describes issues in the pool and garage area. Well, some of the video that was released by Miami- Dade firefighters shows firefighters in that garage area.

And so my questions, and I have a lot of questions for these officials, is this impacting the search and rescue effort here in any way? I don't know the answer, but I'm hoping we learn more about this at 10:30 when officials are expected to brief the media. As far what we know so far, we know that these firefighters have been working relentlessly. And now that we learned about this report and the details of that report, I think it really adds another layer to just how much these firefighters are exposing themselves and their lives to do everything they can to save others. What we know is that they're going under the rubble, looking for tunnels, looking for voids, looking and listening for sounds of life.


Now, in order for them to do that, they have to shore up the walls of this building for them to go in there, and also using cameras, using sonar equipment, using dogs, they're also delayering. It's a process that is done on top of the rubble. And so they have to peel some of those layers in order for them to look for signs of life.

Boris, this type of work is so dangerous because there are, of course, the dangers that they can see, the slabs of concrete. There's the dangers that you can't see, the fumes of potential gases and other chemicals that are coming from this building. You have got to think, this is a residential building. There were gas lines. There were also waterpipes that broke. And so when you see all of just the challenges that these men and women are facing as they sift through the rubble looking for signs of life and hoping to rescue someone, you really admire and think that they're risking everything and doing everything they can to try to save lives here in Surfside, Florida. Boris?

SANCHEZ: Yes, Rosa, it requires an immense amount of discipline and focus to know that there are not only other lives hanging in the balance here, but you may be at risk yourself. And we should note, even though it is sunny right now, we are expecting to get rain later today, and that will further complicate the process. No shortage of challenges for these rescue workers. We should also note, we're going to take you to the press conference as soon as it starts at 10:30. Rosa Flores, thank you so much for that update.

The families of the missing are still clinging to hope that their loved ones will be found and that they're still OK. CNN's Nick Valencia is near the family reunification center. Nick, some very emotional conversations that you've been having. What's the latest that you're hearing from these families?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think that is spot on, Boris. They are clinging to hope because, at this point, that's all that's left for them. With the lack of information coming out, sparse updates, that is what they've been holding on to.

We can tell you here is within the last hour, Governor Ron DeSantis arrived here with his security team. He's been inside. What this hotel has become is a reunification center of sorts for the family and friends of those still unaccounted for. Those who I've spoken to who have been able to go inside, family and friends, of course, who have said there's about 100 or so people in there. The mood is very somber, and they're just really sitting around and waiting. This is the longest that we can see, and we hear that DeSantis has met with the families here. We know that prior to arriving, he was part of a briefing with first responders. We don't know what was said at that briefing. Of course, we'll learn to find out -- we'll wait to find out about 10:30 when we hear from officials directly.

But there has been a range of emotions happening here -- hope, denial, fear, of course, and frustration that is bordering on outrage. We spoke yesterday to a woman named Sariah (ph) Cohen (ph), whose husband and brother-in-law, they believe, she believes, are still alive, buried under that rubble. They were on the 11th floor when that building collapsed. She believes that not enough is being done and there are not enough resources being dedicated to this rescue effort. It is still very much so a rescue effort. We asked earlier the Miami-Dade fire and rescue team here what they're

doing and if they hear the frustrations. They say they are hurt by hearing things like that, because they tell us they're doing all they can to help out those that they're trying to rescue.


MAGGIE CASTRO, MIAMI-DADE FIRE RESCUE: We understand what these family members are going through, sitting here feeling like there's nothing they can do. But we want to assure them that we are working as quickly as we can, as diligently as we can. We know that it may not seem that way at times because they don't see a ton of people on the pile, but we can't put a ton of people on the pile. It's not that we don't have enough personnel. It's that we have to be careful when we're working on this unstable pile.


VALENCIA: You mentioned those range of emotions. They are not immune to that, those first responders. They say it has been a little bit demoralizing to them to be digging and excavating without much results and without information to provide and really any updates. No sign of life for them so far in the last several days, but they are continuing to work as though people are still buried there under the rubble alive. We mentioned Ron DeSantis meeting with those family and friends inside right now. I'm also told just a short time ago that the mayor is also on site. We're waiting, again, for an update from them. Boris?

SANCHEZ: Nick Valencia, thanks so much for that.

Again, we want to point out that in just a matter of minutes, we are expecting a press conference where perhaps more information will come to light and the fate of the 159 people that are still unaccounted for, we may finally get answers.

There is still a question that is looming over this scene -- how could this happen?


Overnight, we learned that an engineer had raised concerns about structural damage at the condominium complex back in 2018. I want to read you an excerpt now from that report. Quote, "The waterproofing below the pool deck and entrance drive, as well as all of the planter waterproofing is beyond its useful life and, therefore, must all be completely removed and replaced. The failed waterproofing is causing major structural damage to the concrete structural slab below these areas."

And this is important, "Failure to replace the waterproofing in the near future will cause the extent of the concrete deterioration to expand exponentially."

Let's speak to an expert to understand all that that means. Here with us now is Dr. Atorod Azizinamini -- help me with the pronunciation. Is that right? DR. ATOROD AZIZINAMINI, DIRECTOR, FIU MOSS SCHOOL OF CONSTRUCTION,


SANCHEZ: I appreciate it. He's the director of Florida Interview University Moss School of Construction. We appreciate you joining us. When you hear those details in that report about what was going on below the pool deck, what does that say to you?

AZIZINAMINI: I think more than anything else, I've been saying this over the last couple of years, I think from the structural standpoint, not every aspect of the high-rise building located in certain locations, we need to inspect them more often than just once every 40 years. I am of the advocate that we need to have structural foundation, certain aspects of the building, needs to be inspected maybe once every 10 years or so. That's a number that the experts need to come up with.

We are very organized when it comes to inspection of our bridges, and there is a federal law that says that every bridge in the U.S. has to be inspected once every two years. So when it comes to bridge structure, we are very organized. Unfortunately, when it comes to the buildings, it's not as organized as there's no national organization that, one, presents the buildings. So I think, more than anything else, that emphasizes that we as a structural community needs to get together, and, unfortunately, learn from the tragic accident and modify the way we go about design, construction, and the maintenance and inspection.

I think -- my feeling is that we need to give it time, to the investigators, OK, that's number one, so they can do the job, they can put the pieces of the puzzle together, and come up with the reasons, reason or reasons, why this building collapsed, and let us learn from that, and then make some changes. I think there's going to be some, hopefully some good changes. Unfortunately, it's not going to help the precious lives that were lost in this tragic accident, but we should make sure that nothing like this happens again.

SANCHEZ: Let's be clear, we don't know that they're lost. The families are still holding on to hope that some may still be trapped underneath the rubble and may still be alive. I do want to give some context for our viewers. The building was about to go a review process for certification, one that is required every 40 years. What you're saying is that should be every 10 years, that should be more frequent.


SANCHEZ: Very quickly, I don't want to ask you to speculate about what happened here.


SANCHEZ: But historically, when you see a collapse like this, especially here in south Florida, an area that's renowned for the way that buildings are constructed to withstand the strongest hurricanes.

AZIZINAMINI: Yes. SANCHEZ: Historically, what is it that has caused collapses like this

in the past?

AZIZINAMINI: Yes. I cannot pinpoint, at least the number of factors that structural engineers needs to take a look. And it will be very premature right now, saying that maybe foundation settlement, maybe that water leak caused it, but certainly those are big factors. And one thing I can say is that from my professional experience, any collapse, failure that I have seen, it's not just one factor. There are a number of different factors that come together and create, so to speak, the perfect storm that causes the collapse. So to me, right now, of course, to get back to your question, even losing one life is too many.

SANCHEZ: Absolutely.

AZIZINAMINI: Even one life, that should not happen. We need to provide the redundancy, we need to provide the activity in the buildings, so that even if something gives away, the building doesn't collapse. We do that in seismic areas. In earthquake areas, we make sure that the building doesn't collapse, they can sustain damage beyond the repair. You may have to evacuate, but it should not collapse. We need to do the same type of design philosophy in buildings.

SANCHEZ: Let me ask you this.



SANCHEZ: There is a sister building to this one, nearly identical, built by the same company. It's basically a copy-paste of this building. The mayor of Surfside out of an abundance of caution, is putting the word out there that he would like to see the residents of that building evacuated. What kind of thoughts go into your mind? What considerations are at play in thinking about potentially evacuating those people from that building?

AZIZINAMINI: I think that's -- that particular building, I think the mayor did the right thing. I think we need to be -- we should not take even one in a million chance. We should not do that. So I think the mayor did the right decision.

My feeling is that even other buildings, maybe similar buildings, located at similar locations, if someone sees, for example, there are extensive, let's say, signs of cracking, things like that, as a precaution, not to panic, but as a precaution, it's not a bad idea to get a structural engineer do the visual inspection. And we have the tools to do more than just visual inspections. So I think you have to be cautious, and I think the mayor's decision is right

SANCHEZ: Doctor, thank you so much for the expertise. We very much appreciate it.


SANCHEZ: Thank you so much for joining us.

Stay with CNN. We're going to be right back in a moment with the stories of families waiting to hear about loved ones and the heroes that are now risking it all to save lives.



SANCHEZ: We are back live in Surfside, Florida. Search and rescue efforts continue for dozens of people still unaccounted for in that deadly condo building collapse. Right now, we're going to hear from the families of one of those who is unaccounted for. The daughter of Judy Spiegel, she was a 65-year-old beloved grandmother who is among the missing this morning. Rachel Spiegel joins us now. Rachel, we really appreciate you joining us, unfortunately, under these circumstances. Really sorry that you have to deal with this. First and foremost, are there any updates right now from the authorities about your mom?

RACHEL SPIEGEL, MOTHER, JUDY SPIEGEL, IS MISSING: No, we've had zero updates. Can you hear me? We've had no updates.

SANCHEZ: Yes, I can hear you. I'm curious about what you would like --

SPIEGEL: Yes, anything at this point. I think we'd really like to understand where they are in the search. It's day three, so we're here. We're in Surfside. I'm trying to walk over from the building. I'm like, three blocks away. Harding avenue is closed. I'm walking. It's tough. It's day three, so I feel like we need to understand how the progress is going.

SANCHEZ: Officials here have said that they are pouring every possible resource into this effort. Families that we've heard from don't feel like that is the case. When you hear reassurances from these officials, from rescue crews, that they are doing their very best, how does that make you feel? Are you confident that the most is being done right now to find your mom?

SPIEGEL: No. I really do believe that everybody is doing everything in their power. I really think the city of Miami is doing that. But of course, everybody wants their family members, so time is of the essence.

SANCHEZ: No question. I want to get to know your mom, Judy, a little bit better. You say that she loves Surfside. She and your father are getting close to their 40-year an anniversary.


SANCHEZ: From what I understand, he was on a work trip. He, fortunately, was not here. What would you like the world to know about your mom?

SPIEGEL: Well, about my parents is that they have the most wonderful, incredible marriage. They're very happy. They -- SANCHEZ: It appears as though we're having some technical difficulties

there. We're hopefully going to get Rachel back soon so we can hear more details about her mom and her story and what she's going through right now.

Erica, it's this delicate balance between the need for answers from the family members of those who are unaccounted for, and the painstakingly slow work that has to be done by these rescuers who are putting their lives on the line to try to find any signs of life, to try to rescue anyone that might be trapped under the rubble. It is, understandably, frustrating, but given all the challenges that these rescuers are facing, this is essentially the way it has to be.

HILL: Yes, it is. But, as you point out, it is also understandable, the frustration. You just hear the -- you hear the pain, and you still hear some hope in Rachel's voice there. And it is heartbreaking because the Siegel family is one of many right now desperate for any kind of answer, as you point out. They understand it's slow. They understand it's careful. But the last three days have just been ultimate agony for them.

SANCHEZ: There's no question. And as of right now, we're only about five or six minutes away from the scheduled time for this press conference. We understand Florida's Governor Ron DeSantis is going to be there, the mayor of Miami-Dade County, the mayor of Surfside. So the public will get some kind of a response, hopefully, as to where that number stands, 159 people still unaccounted for.


That press conference set to take place just steps away from me. We're going to bring it to you live as soon as it starts, Erica.

HILL: We are also following a number of other headlines this morning, including out of the city of St. Louis, which is now suing the state of Missouri over a new law which invalidates federal gun measures. We're going to discuss next.


HILL: Live pictures right now. This is, of course, Surfside, Florida. We are waiting on local and state officials to hold a briefing here on their latest efforts on that rescue mission there to find the more than 100 people, 159 people still unaccounted for in the deadly building collapse in Surfside, Florida.


We're going to bring that all to you live when it happens. So stay with us for that.

We also want to get you caught up on a couple of the other headlines we're following for you on this Saturday morning. And 22-and-a-half years, that is the prison sentence for fired police officer Derek Chauvin, convicted of George Floyd's murder. It's the longest sentence for an ex-police officer in the state of Minnesota, and more than the guidelines called for, but it is less than the 30 years prosecutors wanted. Several members of George Floyd's family spoke at Friday's hearing, including his young daughter, Gianna.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you could say anything to your daddy right now, what would it be?

GIANNA FLOYD, GEORGE FLOYD'S DAUGHTER: It would be, I miss you and I love you.


HILL: In his sentencing memo, the judge said Chauvin treated Mr. Floyd with respect and denied him the dignity owed to all human beings. George Floyd's family says Chauvin's sentence still falls short.


PHILONISE FLOYD, GEORGE FLOYD'S BROTHER: We believe Mr. Chauvin should have received the maximum amount of time. We just thought that our brother suffered for nine minutes and 29 seconds, and we will never be able to get him back. So we just wish that he would have received the max.


HILL: With voting rights bills stalled in Congress, the Justice Department now taking steps to secure U.S. elections after former President Trump's false claims of widespread voter fraud spurred dozens of state laws that reduce access to the ballot. The Justice Department is launching a task force to address the growing threats against election officials.

And Attorney General Merrick Garland announcing the Justice Department is suing the state of Georgia over its new restrictive voting law. CNN's Jessica Schneider has more.


JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The Justice Department is suing the state of Georgia over new voting restrictions enacted by Republicans in that state in the wake of the 2020 election. The state law imposes several new mandates, including new I.D. requirements for absentee ballots, limiting the use of ballot drop-boxes, and even making it a crime to approach voters in line to give them food and water.

The Attorney General Merrick Garland, he is saying that those restrictions amount to denying black people the right to vote, and that's why DOJ is now suing Georgia under the Voting Rights Act. Georgia, of course, has become ground zero in the battle over voting rights since Republicans there enacted these new restrictions. And, of course, former President Trump zeroed in on Georgian officials back in January, asking them to find him more votes after he claimed voter fraud in the state. This lawsuit, though, could be a long fight for the Biden

administration. Both the governor and secretary of state in Georgia, both of whom are Republicans, are promising to defeat this lawsuit with the governor there saying the Biden administration has weaponized the DOJ to carry out its far-left agenda. Now, the state of Georgia is already facing lawsuits from several civil rights groups. They also say that these new laws violate federal law.

Jessica Schneider, CNN, Washington.


HILL: St. Louis city and St. Louis County government are now suing the state of Missouri over its latest move to block federal gun laws. Under the Second Amendment preservation act, citizens have the right to sue cities whose law enforcement officials try to enforce federal gun restrictions. If it's determined that any officer or entity violates a person's Second Amendment right, they would be liable to pay monetary damages up to $50,000. Missouri had some of the weakest gun laws and some of the highest crime rates in the nation.

Joining us now is Missouri Democratic State Representative Tracy McCreery, who has spoken out against the law, who opposed the bill. Good to have you with us. As you know, of course, the DOJ has said this unconstitutionally interferes with federal law enforcement. We just mentioned the lawsuit from St. Louis city and county, Representative Jered Taylor, told me earlier that he believes that they will ultimately be victorious. As we follow along with this lawsuit, how do you think this will play out?

STATE REP. TRACY MCCREERY (D-MO): Well, I believe that the bill that the legislature passed is extreme and unconstitutional. And what I see my colleagues doing with this legislation, is they're simply trying to score political points and undermine the results of the presidential election. But in reality, what this bill that is now law has done is it has undermined law enforcement and makes it much harder for law enforcement to enforce the public safety laws that are on the books.

HILL: So in terms of those concerns, how do you square the two? With this law there, yes, there is the lawsuit in the city and the county of St. Louis, but what are you hearing specifically from law enforcement? Because when I asked him about that, he had said even some early opposition, he said to me, from the Missouri Sheriffs Association, that they had worked it out and they were sort of neutral on it at this point.


MCCREERY: That is not true. We saw a prominent police chief in Missouri resign when this bill went into effect. What we're doing with this nullification law is we're putting our public servants at risk of a lawsuit. And I see law enforcement across the state and across the country stand up and be opposed to bills like this.

HILL: This has also exposed something that you've been fighting to correct for a number of years, it's my understanding. So just to catch our viewers up to speed here, there's a lot of concern about this bill, right, by essentially saying the federal laws are null and void in the state of Missouri when it comes to guns, that it means that if someone is -- has been convicted of a misdemeanor domestic violence charge, they would then be able to possess a firearm. Currently, that can't happen because of federal law.

So, when the concealed carry was expanded in Missouri in 2016, some of the language was removed, we're told accidentally, inadvertently. Without that federal protection, I know you've been trying to get this language changed for the last number of years. It just failed again with another effort in May, is my understanding. What is your biggest concern? And is this a priority in the state?

MCCREERY: It should be a priority. As public policymakers, our number one job should be to protect the public. And Missouri already has very weak domestic violence laws. And since 2016, we have not had a state -- we have not had a state law that could keep weapons out of the hands of convicted domestic violence abusers. So, we have been relying on this federal law, and in cooperation with federal and state law, to protect victims, survivors of domestic violence. So, this law, in my opinion, now means that local law enforcement can no longer work with federal authorities to keep guns out of the hands of convicted domestic violence abusers.

HILL: So, I asked Representative Taylor about this, and he said, what just needs to happen is we need to, or the state needs to change the classification here, so that this is not a misdemeanor but then a felony, and that would solve everything. Is it really that simple?

MCCREERY: It's not that simple. And I think some of my colleagues need to talk to the survivors and talk to some of the children who have survived domestic violence and violence in general and realize that just because their abuser was charged with a misdemeanor doesn't mean that what the survivors wasn't at the felony level. We have to trust prosecutors to do what's right for their communities. And just because it's a misdemeanor charge doesn't mean that the survivors don't live in fear every day of their lives.

HILL: State Representative Tracy McCreery, appreciate your time this morning. Thank you.

MCCREERY: Thank you, Erica.

HILL: As we continue to follow the developments out of Florida, the collapse which happened in the United States is having an effect across the globe. A number of those missing are from Venezuela, Argentina, Colombia, just to name a few. Now several Latin American countries have confirmed they had citizens in their Surfside condo building. We'll have the latest next.



GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): -- the families, done by the fire department, as you know, they have been fighting these fires all night. And we were out back looking at the wreckage, and if you were there the morning after, you didn't see it smoldering like it is now. The stench is very thick, and it obviously has created quite an obstacle. And they're going to go into what they're doing to do that.

From the state's perspective, we fulfilled all requests. FEMA is on site. We're working well. There's resources available. We have the capacity to do more if that's needed. But I think at this juncture, it really is dealing with those fires. It's a very challenging circumstance, and they're doing the best that they can.

And just pray for the folks who were impacted, either directly or the family. It's a really, really difficult time right now. You wake up in the morning hoping that more and more people were pulled out, and that news that hasn't been what we had hoped. And so I will turn it over to Mayor Cava, then we'll get the briefing from the fire perspective.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, governor. And everyone, please remember, we're going to hold questions until the end. Raise your hand, you'll be acknowledged, and then please state who the question is for. And now, the Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava.

MAYOR DANIELLA LEVINE CAVA, MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, FLORIDA: So, hello everyone. Here we are two-and-a-half days into this incredible tragedy, and the world is watching, and we thank everyone for they prayers, for their support. We feel it. We feel everyone is with us. And it makes a difference. It really does.

I want to thank the governor for being with us again today, for bringing the resources of the state, for participating in getting FEMA here to the state. This is going to be huge for us as we continue to move forward on our search and rescue, and then what comes beyond.

So, as you heard, we're facing very incredible difficulties with this fire. The fire has been going on for a while. It's a very deep fire. It's extremely difficult to locate the source of the fire. And so they've been working around the clock, these fire rescue teams, these brave men and women, under the rubble to fix this problem so they can get on, but it is hampering our search efforts. We see that the smoke has spread. It spread laterally throughout the pile. It is very difficult to isolate the source of the fire and, therefore, to stop it.

So, we're using everything possible to address this fire. We are using infrared technology. We're using foam. We're using water, and all the tactics that we can to contain the fire and minimize the smoke spread. Obviously, the smoke itself is the biggest barrier right now to proceeding in those areas. So we created a trench using heavy equipment to try to isolate the fire and continue searching for victims in the part of the pile that we can access.

No further victims have been found, as you've heard. The numbers are the same as they were yesterday -- 127 have been accounted for, 159 unaccounted for, and four confirmed dead. Our top priority now continues to be search and rescue. We continue to have hope. We're continuing to search. We're looking for people alive in the rubble. That is our priority, and our teams have not stopped. Hour after hour through the night, they have been working.

At the same time, we know everyone wants to know what is the cause, what has happened here, and, of course, we are going to conduct a full and thorough investigation with all of our local, state, and federal resources coming on the scene. So people are gathering from all around to help us with this investigation.

At the county level, I am directing that our Department of Regulatory and Economic Resources will immediately commence and audit of all of the buildings at the 40-year point and beyond. So, we want to make sure that every building has completed their recertification process, and we want to move swiftly to remediate any issues that may have been identified in that process. So, we're going to conduct this audit within the next 30 days, and we are beginning right now.

There are buildings located within cities that are beyond the county's regulatory authority, and I invite cities to join with us in this aggressive review, as well, of situations in these buildings, to make sure that they are safe.


We're going to work closely with our cities and provide technical assistance so they can get this job done. As far as the buildings that have been developed by the same developer as this building, we want to make sure that we can work with the cities the to provide the technical assistance to them, as well as they identify any possible state and federal funding that could assist with conducting safety inspections. So, we are here together.

So, to the community and the world, please be patient. Please stand with us. Please continue your prayers. We are not going to stop. We need your support. Thank you.


SANCHEZ: We are watching live as the mayor of Miami-Dade County briefs the press and the families of those who are still unaccounted for. As soon as she stops translating to Spanish, we'll go back to her. But I just want to give you a recap of what was said so far. The news we did not want to hear, that the numbers are the same as yesterday -- 159 people still unaccounted for, four confirmed dead.

We're getting a clearer picture of the challenge, the specific challenge that rescuers here are facing. There's apparently a fire that has been burning now for several days, and they cannot locate the source of it. So, rescue crews have actually built out a trench to try to separate the fire from crews, and to try to, first, find the source of the fire to put it out, and to look for life.

At this point, the mayor making clear, there is no indication, there is no sign of life, but she wants the families out there of those who are unaccounted for to continue to hope and pray that a miracle will take place.

Further, the governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, also speaking out. He said that the state is ready to offer even more resources than have already been offered. He says that he believes that officials here are doing everything that they can to save lives. And an important thing that both of these officials pointed out, this remains a rescue effort. The belief is that they can still potentially save lives. The distinction being that a recovery effort -- actually, let's go ahead and take the press conference live.

JOSE "PEPE" DIAZ, COUNTY COMMISSION BOARD CHAIRMAN: These are, as we all know and we're all suffering, very hard moments. We have the families, and they are suffering, and it's very difficult, what they're going through. Your prayers have been extremely well received. Please continue the prayers. They're very important. The hope is very important. People need it. The firefighters that are working hard 24 hours a day need it.

We have our firefighters and firefighters from all over that are participating in helping. They're switching out and working as fast, as diligently as possible. This is very frustrating because we want it all done. We want to rescue as many people as possible. We want to get to the bottom of this situation. But we can't because the process is very slow. And we need to understand that. It has to be done properly, to respect all those that can be rescued. So that's where we're at.

As far as the mayor, and first of all, I want to thank the president for sending his resources, our governor, thank you for all the resources, everything, and being here. As everybody that is working together, mayor, and working with other mayors in other cities, in other departments, thank you for all the work and the leadership and the people of Miami-Dade County and all over the world, thank you for everything you're sending. It's not only your love and your prayers, but all the things that you're sending to help out the families and those that are working here. Thank you so much for all of that.

As far as my colleagues and I, we will do everything that needs to be done with legislation so this will never happen again in our community. That is a promise.



SANCHEZ: So as he translates to Spanish, I'll just recap again what we're hearing from officials. That's Jose "Pepe" Diaz, the chairman of the Miami-Dade County Commission. You could hear him becoming emotional, asking the public for prayers and for support for these rescue efforts. He essentially is asking the families of those who are still unaccounted for, for patience. He said, quote, it must be done this way. The painstakingly slow process of sifting through that rubble, it is difficult.

And as we heard previously from the mayor of Miami-Dade County, Daniela Levine Cava, there is a fire that is raging underneath this rubble. And unfortunately, rescue crews have not been able to locate its source, and it is complicating the effort and slowing down rescue crews. I'm not actually sure if you can hear it right now, but another thing

that will likely impact the search, there is lightning, there is thunder. There is going to be rain. It is already coming down in this area, and so that presents layers of challenges for these rescue workers. And as we listen to Jose "Pepe" Diaz give this translation, this update, this briefing, we have to recognize that it is a very difficult process, not just for these rescue workers, but for the families that are standing by not very far from here, hoping to get answers.

And at least if there was some kind of confirmation, it would be better for the process of closure. Unfortunately, the mayor of Miami- Dade County revealing moments ago that there is no update to the numbers, no remains, no living person has been found. We are still waiting to see if there are signs of life in the enormous pile of rubble that is behind me.

As the press conference continues, let's listen in.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Again, our thoughts and prayers with the family and our first responders. As the fire chief, I couldn't be prouder of our efforts right now, that the brave men and women working around the clock, performing our search and rescue efforts. We continue search and rescue efforts majority through the evening. As we're continuing removing debris, the smoke has been picking up.

As I stated earlier, we're also dealing with a deep-seeded fire, smoldering fire, but obviously, producing a large amount of smoke. One of the most difficult situations, one, the type of collapse itself and what we have been dealing with, and going throughout the debris and trying to attempt to find voids, and looking for opportunities for survivors. We continue those efforts. We had to stop briefly as we dug the trench, as the mayor mentioned, bringing in heavier equipment, looking with infrared, different components and seeing how we can mitigate that situation as we continue our search and rescue efforts.

So we reevaluate, and we will rotate our efforts and will work together in the sense of simultaneously, as we're addressing the fire and smoke concerns, the search and rescue efforts, as well. But it's very difficult situation, and we continue to modify and adjust what we need to, to hopefully save some lives. Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, chief. And Miami-Dade Fire Rescue in Spanish, Erica (ph) Benitez (ph)?


SANCHEZ: Something that occurs to me now, Erica, as we're listening to these Spanish translations, something that we haven't pointed out in just the past few moments is how international this community was. At least 31 people who are believed to be in the building when it collapsed were from all over Latin America, Paraguay, Colombia, Venezuela, et cetera. So it's important that these folks get a message in their native tongue from officials as they eagerly await answers.

We just heard from Fire Chief Cominsky (ph) there, he gave us more details about the effort to dig out this trench, to try to get to the source of the fire and to separate it out from where officials are. Let's get back to the press conference.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The numbers haven't changed. Is there any indication that there are people living, perhaps through the canines or any other technology, that you can't attend to right now, but there are possibilities that there are people alive?

CAVA: We are continuing our search and rescue because our first responders believe there's still a possibility. There are crevices, so there's air. They're able to pick through. But right now, obviously, we're trying to stabilize the situation because of the fire and the smoke.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Madam Mayor, in light of the civil engineering report issued overnight, do you still agree -- or do you agree with the assessment in terms of other associations that there were no red flags or signs of imminent collapse in the building?

CAVA: We are obviously very interested in all of the evidence that's coming to light, and we're going to be including it in our -- what happens after the rescue.


And in the meantime, we're taking actions to make sure that other buildings are safe.



CAVA: No, we knew nothing about this report. No, we did not know about this report.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How many buildings did the audit include, and do you know how many buildings -- in Miami-Dade County and in the state?

CAVA: So for the county audit, we'll get you a number later. We'll get that number. As for the city of Surfside, I know there is one other building by this developer up the street. I do not know how many others.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Fire chief, can you please clarify, I know the fire --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, at this time, we haven't located any victims. As we continue our search, again, it's a very delicate matter because we're still searching. Search and rescue operations is what we're focusing on. So as we're moving debris, as the smoke is increasing, we still haven't come across anything along the signs of life.

(INAUDIBLE) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, ma'am. Everything impacts our search and rescue efforts. Just the magnitude of this collapse and the type of collapse it is, is one of the most difficult. We've been searching through any void, any crevice we see is what we're accessing. And that's why we were searching from below. We're continuing those effort. We had to shift based on the circumstances and where we're looking. And again, the biggest thing here is hope. That's what's driving us right now. That's what's driving my decision right now, briefing with the mayor, for us to continue in our search and rescue efforts. It is an extremely difficult situation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Chief, with the continuing fires, is there concern about the air quality? And if so, what is being done to protect the rescue teams?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, we normally have just air respirators. Yes, there is definitely a concern, which we'd have actually to go on self- contained breathing apparatus. Last night, we aggressively attacked certain areas of the fire where Miami-Dade Fire Rescue firefighters particularly were addressing those components of trying to minimize the impact. So yes, air quality is a concern. We still have ventilation fans that we set up in specific areas, and we use them to the best that we can. But we're also there's a concern in regards to adding more air, that you could increase whatever is smoldering, whatever this deep-seeded area that's still burning is could intensify, as well. So that's the logistics, the complications that we're dealing with at this time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What kind of resources --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One second, guys, one second. We have a question for the governor.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Governor DeSantis, given the concerns about some of the structure of this building, would you feel safe going to sleep tonight if you were in the sister building of this just 100 yards away?

DESANTIS: So I talked to the mayor of Surfside, and I think Daniela talked to him, as well. As you mentioned, there is a sister building basically right down the street. I know they are looking at, because it was built at the same time with the same designer, so they are looking at working with them. And I know they are considering potentially evacuating them. But that's something that ultimately the mayor is going to have to make the call on. I don't know that there's indications that there is any problems with that building, but just given the similarities, given the same age, they think that that may be something. So I think he may have an announcement on that today.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- recommend that they evacuate that building?

DESANTIS: I answered the question.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Last question here. One more question.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are there any structural assessments of any other buildings here that are going on right now?

CAVA: That's a question for the city.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, gentlemen. Thank you, guys.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We'll be announcing it soon. And now, we're going to have Ivan (ph) Mauricio (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you say it on the mic, please?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He said there's no sound. He told me --

HILL: So we've just been listening to this update from the governor, the mayor, the fire department, as well. Let's just listen in for one second here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And again, when we say sounds, it's not distinct. It hasn't ever been distinct. It's just things that we hear, so we focus on that area as we're doing our search. And no, we haven't heard anything different in regards to the sounds to guide us a different way.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I couldn't say that right now. Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And now for, again, Ivan (ph) Mauricio (ph).