Biden approves federal aid after Florida condo collapse
Tallahassee, June 25: United States President Joe Biden has approved an emergency declaration in the state of Florida, ordering federal help to supplement state and local response efforts a day after a building collapsed near Miami leaving one dead and nearly 100 unaccounted for.
"The President's action authorizes the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to coordinate all disaster relief efforts," the White House said in a statement released on Friday.
A beachfront apartment building partially collapsed on Thursday in the community of Surfside, trapping scores of people.
Rescuers had pulled out dozens of survivors and the search was on for more but by late evening some 100 people were still missing, raising fears that the death toll could rise.
"The building is literally pancaked,'' Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said. "That is heartbreaking because it doesn't mean, to me, that we are going to be as successful as we wanted to be in finding people alive.''
The rescuers were working in teams of 10 and 12 at a time, entering the rubble with dogs and equipment.
The teams were working through the wreckage until they grew tired from heavy lifting and made way for a new crew ,said Florida Chief Financial Officer and state fire marshal Jimmy Patronis.
"They're not going to stop just because of nightfall,'' he said.
According to the White House statement on Friday, FEMA is authorized to identify, mobilize, and provide at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to lessen the impacts of the collapse.