‘The hope is that there are going to be miracles,’ friend of Surfside building collapse victims says

Leo Soto was in Surfside on Saturday waiting for updates about his friends who were in Champlain Towers South when a portion of the ocean side building collapsed on Thursday in Miami-Dade County’s town of Surfside.

Soto said he met Nicole “Nicky” Langesfeld in high school and they had remained friends. He was worried about her and her partner, Luis Sadovnic, who was born in Venezuela. The two lived in an apartment on the 8th floor.

“The hope is that there are going to be miracles,” Soto said.

The search-and-rescue operation continued as experts believe there is still a chance of finding survivors trapped in air pockets within the pancaked concrete.

The public meetings for prayers continued on Saturday in South Florida. A prayer vigil was held on Saturday night at the Saint Joseph Catholic Church, at 8670 Byron Ave., in Miami Beach.

Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said the official death toll had risen to five on Saturday afternoon, and there were still 156 people unaccounted for. There will come a point when experts will decide to transition to a search-and-recovery operation.

The Archdiocese of Miami released a statement saying Pope Francis offered his prayers “that Almighty God will grant eternal peace to those who have died [and] comfort to those who mourn their loss.”

Search-and-rescue teams found a body and human remains in the rubble on Saturday. They had already recovered the bodies of three victims. And after rescuing a woman out of the debris, she died on the way to the hospital on Thursday.

The Medical Examiner’s Office had yet to identify the human remains. Some of the relatives have provided authorities with DNA samples to help speed up the identification process. Officials have yet to identify any of the victims.

Family reunification center

The town is hosting those who are waiting for information about unaccounted relatives at the Grand Beach Hotel Surfside, at 9449 Collins Ave. Levine Cava said there are two daily briefings for relatives.

For information or to report the status of a loved one who is unaccounted for, call 305-614-1819 or 305-993-1071.

Complete coverage

HOW TO HELP: Here’s a list of resources to support those impacted by building collapsePhotos: Loved ones name those they say are missingPhotos: Building in Surfside partially collapses Hotline and wellness form for residents and families

Coverage on Saturday

Mayor reports 5 dead, 156 unaccounted for as search for survivors continuesMissing grandparents’ landline calling from Champlain Towers South condo, family saysSurfside tower had ‘major structural damage’ — but enough to cause a collapse?North Bay Village police chief’s mother has been unaccounted for since Surfside building collapseFire burning beneath rubble of collapsed Surfside condo hindering rescue effortsSurfside building collapse first responders having difficulty locating victims in massive debris pileMiami-Dade Mayor: ‘I’m hopeful this will be the day we have a breakthrough’Surfside mayor expresses concern over Champlain South’s identical sister buildingTraffic changes in Surfside area as rescue efforts continue following deadly building collapse

Coverage on Friday

Champlain Towers South resident survives by climbing through rubble in the dark with her dogTeen identified after being pulled from rubble in Surfside, family confirms mother is among those deadMan who lives in condo looks out, tells wife ‘My parents’ apartment isn’t there’Surfside collapse: Family reunification center moving from community space to hotelFirst lawsuit filed after partial building collapse in SurfsideSmoke billows out from Champlain Towers South collapse siteSurfside officials discuss aftermath of building collapse: ‘Terrible tragedy’ to change recertificationIsrael sends help to Surfside’s Jewish community Amid anguish after building collapse, memorial, prayer circle help some cope with Surfside tragedy

Coverage on Thursday

Officials fear there will be many casualties after Surfside building ‘pancaked’ during collapseSurveillance video captures eerie moments as part of Surfside condo crashes downMan says all he saw was ‘white clouds of dust’Father remains missing; wife and daughter hospitalized after Surfside building collapseSurfside condo that collapsed was going through a recertification processAfter Surfside collapse do you need to worry about your building?Officials fear there will be many casualties after Surfside building ‘pancaked’ during collapseGeologist warned of instability in Surfside Read More

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