Prayers and Church aid pledged following Miami building collapse

Holy Mass was being offered on Friday in Surfside near Miami in the US for all those affected by the collapse of a tower block. As rescue teams continued to search for survivors, the Archbishop of Miami, Thomas Wenski said his heart went out to all those affected by the tragedy.

By Lydia O’Kane

Search teams are continuing to sift through rubble in order to reach survivors after the partial collapse of an oceanfront apartment block near Miami in Florida.

At least three people are known to have died and nearly 100 are missing.

Authorities said rescue crews heard banging and other noises but no voices from the ruins  of the tower block which crashed to the ground in the early hours of Thursday morning.

It’s still not known what caused the 40 year old building to collapse, but officials said the Champlain Towers South condominium in Surfside, was undergoing roof construction and other repairs.

Fears for those missing

Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said he feared for those missing.

“The problem is the building has literally pancaked… that is heartbreaking because it doesn’t mean to me that we are going to be as successful as we would want to be to find people alive.”

Meanwhile, Miami-Dade Police Director Freddy Ramirez said fire and rescue teams were in search-and-rescue mode, and would continue looking for survivors.

This eye witness spoke of seeing a young boy amid the debris.

“I was able to hear the boy that was pulled from the rubble yelling, and as he was yelling I responded to him I began to climb the debris to get to him.”

Church support

The Archbishop of Miami, Thomas Wenski said in a statement, “We all woke up learning about the tragic news of the partial collapse of a 12-story condominium in Surfside.

Search and rescue teams continue to sift through the rubble to find survivors and to recover the bodies of those who did not. Our hearts go out to all those affected by the tragedy.

Our Catholic Charities and local clergy have joined with other voluntary agencies and faith leaders to assist in whatever way they can.

We also pledge our prayers for the victims, their families, and first responders.

May the Lord give them strength.”   

Holy Mass was also being offered at St Joseph’s Church in Surfside on Friday for all those affected by the tragedy.

Federal aid

US President Joe Biden has approved an emergency declaration for Florida, which means that state agencies will receive help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency in the  relief effort.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who toured the scene Thursday afternoon, later signed an executive order declaring a state of emergency for Miami-Dade County to hasten access to federal disaster assistance.