SURFSIDE, Fla. — Body camera videos from the first officers on the scene of a South Florida condominium that partially collapse revealed chaos, despair and confusion -- and the beginning of an unthinkable tragedy.
The town of Surfside released police body camera video from the collapse of the Champlain Towers South building, which crashed to the ground shortly after 1 a.m. EDT on June 24, the Sun-Sentinel reported. Bodycam footage recorded the cries of people who were still alive, waiting for first responders to rescue them, the newspaper reported.
Authorities said 55 of the building’s 136 units were affected. Ninety-eight people have since been confirmed dead in the collapse, according to Miami-Dade County officials.
The body cam of Surfside Officer Ariol Lage began filming at about 1:24 a.m. EDT, minutes after the collapse, the Miami Herald reported. Lage waded his way past debris and rushed into the parking garage, where he heard a voice, the newspaper reported.
“Where are you? Are you OK?” Lage can be heard in the video.
“No,” was the answer from a woman.
“Anybody down there injured?” Lage asked, according to the Herald.
“Yes. An old lady,” the woman said.
Lage attempted to find the women but was blocked by a wall, the newspaper reported. It is unclear what happened to the woman he was speaking with or the elderly woman who was injured.
“I started running in and I almost fall in the hole,” Lage later told a firefighter, according to the Herald. “The parking garage, half of it is gone.”
Shortly after 1:28 a.m., a man from a nearby building spoke with an officer, the Sun-Sentinel reported.
In one video, Officer Craig Lovellete encountered Champlain Towers South security guard Shamoka Furman, who was in the building when it collapsed, ABC News reported. Furman described noises she said sounded like an explosion.
In another video clip, Officer Kemuel Gambirazio joins parts of the conversation.
“I hear a boom-boom but I’m thinking it’s the elevator ... no beeps or nothing goes off ... another boom-boom,’” Furman says in the video, according to ABC News.
“This never happens, I didn’t even know we had earthquakes -- I don’t even know what this was,” Furman says. “I don’t even know how I made it out of there ... through the grace of God.”
“Dude, the building just collapsed. Half of the back is gone,” one officer says, according to bodycam footage.
From the wreckage, people can be heard shouting “help” and “over here,” The New York Times reported. Many of their cries were drowned out by the sound of wind, sirens and the officers’ movement, the newspaper reported.
In another video, an officer running to the scene found people yelling, “Please help!” near the building’s garage area, WTVJ reported. Several cars had fallen into partially collapsed sections of the concrete, the television station reported.
“A lot of dust, I can barely see anything,” the officer says over his radio, according to WTVJ.
Each of the three body-worn camera videos is about 20 minutes long and was taken between 1:24 a.m. and 1:45 a.m., the Herald reported.
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