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At least one dead as block of flats in Miami partially collapses

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Multi-story building partially collapses near Miami Beach authorities say

Santo Mejil, 50, told the Miami Herald his wife called him from the building, where she was working as an aide for an elderly woman.

Resident Barry Cohen and his wife were rescued from the building.

Sally Heyman, a Miami-Dade County Commissioner, said officials have been unable to make contact with 51 people who "supposedly" live in the building, home to a mix of people including families and part-time "snow birds" who spend the winter months in Florida. Burkett suggests there may be more fatalities.

"We were like - 'what is going on?' We went rushing toward it with shirts over our faces and the security guard came out and we were, like, 'what happened?' and she said the building collapsed".

A survivor said she escaped from the 9th floor and that the collapse sounded like an quake.

"The back of the building, probably a third or more, is totally pancaked", he said. "It felt like an quake", he told the Miami Herald newspaper, tearing up as his wife called again to say she was being evacuated from the complex.

It was unclear how many people were inside at 2 a.m. (0600 GMT), when an entire side of the building pulled away and fell to the ground below. Marian Cruz said. "It's a very active scene, I advise everyone to just stay out of the area so that fire rescue and officers can conduct rescues and do what we need to do". They returned upstairs, screamed for help and were eventually brought to safety by firefighters using a cherry-picker.

Multiple police and fire departments have been called in from right across the city, are coming through the rubble in search of anyone who may have been trapped.

"Miami-Dade Fire Rescue is on scene of a partial building collapse near 88 Street & Collins Avenue", the department said. "Buildings just don't fall down".

The seaside condo development was built in 1981 in the southeast corner of Surfside. It had a few two-bedroom units now on the market, with asking prices of US$600,000 to US$700,000.

The area is a mix of new and old apartments, houses, condominiums and hotels, with restaurants and stores serving an worldwide combination of residents and tourists. The community provides a stark contrast from bustle and glitz of nearby South Beach with a slower-paced neighbourhood feel. Both the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue and the Miami-Dade Police Department also confirmed there was at least one fatality as a result of the building collapse.

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