A woman trapped beneath the rubble of the collapsed Champlain Towers South condo pleaded with rescuers to save her, but they were unable to reach her, according to Miami-Dade County Chief Alan Cominsky.
In a Thursday press conference, Cominsky told reporters that rescuers heard “audible sounds” from a woman as they conducted their initial search of the damage.
“Unfortunately, during our initial search-and-rescue efforts while we were working underneath the structure, the same structure that’s significantly compromised right now, we did hear audible sounds,” the South Florida fire chief said.
“And they were searching for a female voice, is what we heard, for several hours and eventually, we didn’t hear her voice anymore, and we continued searching,” he continued. “And again that’s emphasizing the magnitude of what we’re going through. The effort that all our fire rescue personnel, anyone that’s here on scene, trying to do the best we can in these heroic efforts. And, unfortunately, we didn’t have success in that.”
“Everybody that was there, that’s what we’re trying to do, get this lady out and comfort her. … She was asking for help and she was pleading to be taken out of there,” a first responder told WPLG.
“We were continuously talking to her. … ‘Honey, we got you. We’re going to get to you,’” said the rescuer, who asked to remain anonymous.
Local news outlet WPLG-TV reports that crews were “devastated” after they were unable to save the trapped woman.
“Everybody that was there, that’s what we’re trying to do, get this lady out and comfort her. … She was asking for help and she was pleading to be taken out of there,” an unnamed rescue worker said. “We were continuously talking to her. … ‘Honey, we got you. We’re going to get to you.’”
Rescue efforts at the site of a partially collapsed Florida condominium building were halted Thursday out of concern about the stability of the remaining structure after crews noticed widening cracks and up to a foot of movement in a large column, officials said.
The stoppage that began shortly after 2 a.m. threatened to keep search teams off the rubble pile for an unknown period and dim hopes for finding anyone alive in the debris a week after the tower came down.
The rescue operations were called off on the same day that President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden visited the devastated community.
The collapse of the 12-story Champlain Towers South beachfront condominium killed at least 18 people and left 145 missing. Hundreds of search-and-rescue personnel have painstakingly searched the pancaked rubble for potential signs of life, but no one has been rescued since the first hours after the collapse.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.