The Mayor of Bal Harbor, Gabriel Groisman, described the scene when the Champlain Towers collapsed as “devastating”. Bal Harbor is about a mile north of Surfside, Florida where the collapse occurred.
“To be honest, it’s devastating. The site is devastating, ”Groisman told CNN’s Ana Cabrera, adding that half of the building is“ in ruins ”.
Groisman, who visited the site of the collapse with the governor and other elected officials, said what struck him was the silence at the scene.
“The silence was noticeable,” he says. “If you just look at the building in silence, you know the unfortunate truth that a lot of people are lying in these ruins and all you hear is silence. And it’s really deafening. ”
Officials said search and rescue operations could take nearly a week. At least 51 people believed to be living in the building are missing, officials said, but it is unclear whether any of them were home at the time of the collapse.
Groisman said he lived in the building from 1983 to 1991 and described it as “one that appears to be in good shape, at least from the outside”.
The community is largely Jewish, Groisman said, and the building is mainly used by senior citizens and young families.
Groisman announced that he knew a number of unspecified people, adding that the community was “tightly knit”.
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