SHOCKING before and after pictures show the destruction caused by an “unprecedented” Miami apartment collapse as at least 99 people were reported missing.
Surfside mayor Charles Burkett said the building “pancaked” after a portion of it came crashing down around 1:30am on Thursday.
Read our Miami Beach building collapse live blog for the very latest news and updates…
Pictures show the moment before a portion of Champlain Towers South collapsed into a pile of debris.
Bunkbeds and cables teeter over balconies that have been shattered in the destruction.
Residences in the 12-story apartment building were devastated in the process and rubble was found in a swimming pool, according to the New York Post.
Mayor Burkett admitted he didn’t realize the “severity” of the situation when he was first notified about the incident, CBS reports.
He told reporters: “I thought a balcony had come down, to tell you the truth.
"I came out and when I saw what I saw, it was just heartbreaking. It’s like a bomb went off."
He compared the devastation to that of an earthquake and said “buildings like this don’t fall in America".
Mayor Burkett told Fox that the scenes reminded him of the 9/11 attacks.
He said: “They fell in two sections. You may have seen it in some videos, it was not unlike what happened at the trade center in 2001 and it’s really disturbing.”
Experts warned that the condo had been sinking at “an alarming rate” since the 1990s.
Dozens were pulled from the block as around 80 emergency crews and five state agencies responded to the incident in Surfside.
It’s not known what caused the accident but it was reported that a study determined the building to be unstable, according to USA Today.
Shimon Wdowinski said the building was sinking at a rate of approximately two millimeters a year in the 1990s.
He said the findings of the study are not intended to suggest a reason why part of the building came down.
Burkett said the condo recently underwent roofing works over the last 30 days.
Miami Dade fire crews said out of the 37 pulled from the rubble and out of the 11 people injured, four patients were "transported," adding that they were placing solar devices and cameras to locate victims.
Fire Rescue Assistant Chief Ray Jadallah said they heard sounds from under the rubble and that "all operations are occurring underneath" it.
Fire crews were pictured trawling through a garage basement at the complex in the hunt for survivors.
Witnesses compared the impact of the collapse to a "tornado or earthquake".
Dozens are still reported missing as emergency services frantically search for survivors and victims.
Incredible footage captured the moment firefighters rescued a 10-year-old boy from the rubble.
Local media reported that at least one person died and that a firefighter was among those injured, but others have noted that the death toll is expected to rise.
Among the missing include British mom Bhavna Patel, a 38-year-old UK-US dual citizen, her husband Vishal Patel, 42, and their one-year-old daughter Aishani.
It's reported that survivors hugged and said their final goodbyes, fearing they would die in the accident.
Bruno Treptow, 62, told the Miami Herald: "I turned to my wife and she wakes up startled. And she says, no it can’t be. “So I hug her.
"I give her a hug and say, ‘Listen this is it. We’re going to die."
The investigation remains ongoing and officials said it could take up to a week to search the remains of the building.
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