/What we know about those missing in the Miami condo building collapse – USA TODAY

What we know about those missing in the Miami condo building collapse – USA TODAY


SURFSIDE, Fla. — Loved ones of the almost 160 people who are unaccounted for continue to wait for news after a 12-story condominium building collapsed Thursday just north of Miami.

As of Friday, 159 people were still unaccounted for, authorities said. At least four people are dead.

Relatives issued a statement identifying one of the deceased as Stacie Fang. Her son, Jonah Handler, was rescued from the rubble hours after the collapse.

News of the condo collapse has reverberated globally as missing residents have roots around the world. Among them are Orthodox Jews from Russia, Argentine Americans and the sister of Paraguay’s first lady.

As of late Thursday, 20% of the people unaccounted for in the wake of the building’s collapse were South Americans, and news of the collapse was on the front page of news organization websites across the hemisphere.

‘We still have hope’:At least 4 dead, 159 unaccounted for in Florida building collapse

Before and after look: Champlain Towers South, the Florida building that partially collapsed

Crews in hardhats and rescue dogs scavenged through piles of concrete, maneuvering around personal belongings left among the wreckage, including televisions, computers and chairs. A children’s bunk bed perched precariously on a top floor. Two cranes removed debris as crashing glass and metal fell from their claws.

At a reunification center, families arranged chairs into semi-circles to wait. The semi circles grew as new family members made it pass the yellow police tape in search of relatives.

Here’s what we know about those who are missing:

Jewish community members

About 20 Jewish people are among the missing, including some with Israeli citizenship, Maor Elbaz-Starinsky, Consul General of Israel in Miami, told USA TODAY.

A rescue team of Orthodox Jews, called Hatzalah, joined law enforcement officers at the scene in Surfside, which has a large Jewish and Israeli population.

The local Jewish community from a nearby synagogue brought lunch for families of the missing and injured. Dozens and dozens of pizza boxes sat on tables alongside large aluminum trays filled with falafel, cucumber and tomato salad and red cabbage salad.

No families had filed any missing person reports with the consulate Thursday, but Israel offered rescue teams to help with recovery efforts, Elbaz-Starinsky said.

The University of Chicago sent a message to students and faculty confirming that Ilan Naibryf, a rising fourth-year physics and molecular engineering student, is among the individuals missing. Naibryf is also president of the university’s Chabad Student Board, according to an Instagram post being shared among students.

The post asked people to pray for Naibryf and his girlfriend Deborah Berezdivin. “They are dear friends, gems whom we love dearly,” the post said.

The Shul Jewish Community Center posted a sign offering meals, phone chargers, blankets and clothes. They asked people to reach out if they need a place for Shabbat dinner Friday evening.

Argentine American community

Surfside has also long been an enclave for the Argentine American community. Nine Argentines were missing as of Thursday afternoon, the country’s Miami consulate said on Twitter.

La Capital in Rosario, Argentina, reported that two Argentinian actors, Gimena Accardi and Nicolás Vázquez, were staying in the building but were able to escape to safety.

Silvana Juárez, 49, of Argentina, lives near the condo building and told USA TODAY that three of her good friends and a young child were missing.

Also among the missing are married couple Andres Galfrascoli and Fabian Nuñez and their 6-year-old daughter, Sofia, who had spent Wednesday night at the apartment of a friend, Nicolas Fernandez. Galfrascoli is a Buenos Aires plastic surgeon and Nuñez a theater producer and accountant.

“Of all days, they chose the worst to stay there,” Fernandez said. “I hope it’s not the case, but if they die like this, that would be so unfair.”

Researchers say:Collapsed Miami condo had been sinking into Earth as early as the 1990s

Relatives of the first lady of Paraguay

Six Paraguayans are unaccounted for, according to the country’s foreign ministry. Among them are relatives of the first lady of Paraguay, Leticia Robertti, a spokesperson for the Consul General of Paraguay in Miami, told USA TODAY.

They included the sister of the first lady, Sofia Lopez Moreira Bó, her sister’s husband, Luis Pettengill, and their three children and nanny, Lady Luna Villalba.

President Mario Abdo announced he had canceled activities for Thursday and Friday to be with his wife. The first lady is planning to travel to Miami on Friday night, Gilmer Moreira, press director of Paraguay’s presidential palace, said.

‘I have no hope’:Loved ones await news, survivors flee after condo building partially collapses near Miami

Among the missing: A doctor, teacher, yoga instructor 

As of Friday morning, family, friends and colleagues hadn’t heard from Dr. Brad Cohen, a 51-year-old orthopedic surgeon. Colleagues at Cohen’s medical practice, Aventura Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine, held out hope.

“We have people looking out in the hospitals and anywhere he might be,” receptionist Joselyne Cheramy said. “We’re clueless.”

“His phone is not picking up,” Khafizov’s realtor, Tatiana Asailov, said through tears, adding Cohen has a “very attached” daughter who is around 12 years old.

Asailov knows the condo like the back of her hand. “To me, his master bedroom where he would sleep is located right at the end, and I still hope that that room is still there,” Asailov said. “I look at the broken building and I hope.”

Pablo Rodriguez, 40, a Miami native, said his 64-year-old mother and 88-year-old grandmother lived in the wing that collapsed. He last spoke to his mom Wednesday when they chatted about weekend plans.

His grandmother’s 89th birthday is next month. Rodriguez was planning to surprise her with brunch at a nice restaurant.

“I came to the center, but I have no hope,” Rodriguez said in tears on Thursday.

The American Red Cross set up a reunification site for family and friends near the site of the partial building collapse of a 12-story condominium  early Thursday, June 24, 2021 in Surfside, Fla.
About 70 people crammed into a room with chairs and blue gym mats on the floor.

Arnie Notkin, a retired Miami-area elementary school physical education teacher, and his wife, Myriam, are also among the missing. Fortuna Smukler, a friend, described them as joyful people and said Notkin always had a story to tell.

“Originally there were rumors that he had been found, but it was a case of mistaken identity,” Notkin said. “It would be a miracle if they’re found alive.”

Ashley Dean rushed to South Florida from New Orleans after receiving a frantic call from her sister’s husband. Dean’s sister, Cassondra Stratton, a yoga instructor, was missing.

“We’re just holding out hope,” Dean said.

Also among the missing

  • Judith Spiegel, 65, is one of scores of residents still missing. Her husband, Kevin Spiegel, was in California on a business trip when woke in the middle of the night Thursday to an email alert from his Surfside condo saying the building had partially collapsed. He promptly called his daughter, Rachel, to drive to the building and look for Judith – Rachel’s mother – who was still inside. Rachel spent the entire day at the scene of the ruined building and the family reunification area, where she waited anxiously for news. “At the end of the day they asked me to do a DNA sample,” Spiegel said in a phone interview. “So it’s tough. It’s tough.”

  • Jay Kleiman, 52, was back in town from Puerto Rico to attend a funeral for an old high school friend who had lost a long battle with COVID-19. His brother Frankie Kleiman, and his mother Nancy Kress Levin were also staying at the apartment.

  • Julio Cesar Velasquez, 67, and Angela Maria Velasquez, 60, lived in the building for nearly a decade, their son, David Velasquez, told the Washington Post. Angela owns a small men’s clothing shop called Fiorelli, the newspaper reported. Pilar Martinez, 52, a friend of the family, told the newspaper the couple arrived in the U.S. from Colombia in their teens. “She’s an icon there in Weston,” Martinez said. “Everybody knows who she is and that store.” The couple’s daughter, Theresa Velasquez, an executive at the entertainment company Live Nation, was visiting her parents and is also missing, the newspaper reported.

  • Edgar Gonzalez, 45, is an attorney who was in his unit with his wife and daughter, who were both rescued and are in stable condition after surgery, the Washington Post reported

  • Marina Azen, 77, lived in the building for 20 years and suffered from asthma, the Washington Post reported.

  • Anaely Guara, 41, Guara’s husband, Marcos, 55, and their daughters, who are 4 and 11 years old could not be found by relative Betsy Gonzalez, the Washington Post reported. Gonzalez told the newspaper Anaely was born in Cuba and came to the U.S. as a teenager before she met Marcos, who worked in hotels.

  • Claudio Bonnefoy, a cousin of former Chilean President and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet’s father is among the missing, CNN Chile reported. His wife, Maria Bonnefoy, is also missing.

  • Vishal Patel, his wife Bhavna Patel, and their 1-year-old daughter Aishani Patel are missing, their niece Sarina Patel told CNN. She added that Bhavna Patel is four months pregnant.

  • Four Venezuelans who were studying in Gainesville, Florida are missing, América TeVé reported. Their names are Moisés Rodán, 28; Andrés Levine, 27 years old; Luis Sadovnic, 28, and Nicole Langesfeld, the station reported.

  • Luis Fernando Barth, 51, was visiting from Colombia with his wife, Catalina Gomez, 44, and their 14-year-old daughter, Valeria Barth, according to the Miami Herald and New York Daily News.

  • Alfredo Leone and his son Lorenzo Leone were residents of unit 513, WPLG Local 10 reported.

  • Married couple Bonnie and David Epstein were on the ninth floor, WPLG Local 10 reported.

  • Members of the Shul, including Nancy Kress Levin, Jay Kleinman, Frankie Kleinman, Arie Leib, Yisorel Tzvi Yosef and Tzvi Doniel, were among those missing, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported.

  • Family of Sophia Lopez, who traveled to Florida from Uruguay, was been unable to contact her, WPLG Local 10 reported.

  • Friends say they have been unable to contact Luis Alberto Pettengill, Sophia Maria Margarita Pettengill and their children Anna Sophia, 6, Alexia Maria, 9, and Luis Vincente, WPLG Local 10 reported.

  • Mercy Urgelles, a pharmacy director, and her husband, Ray Urgelles, have not been found, WPLG Local 10 reported.

  • Magally Delgado, 80, was living on the ninth floor when the building collapsed, WPLG Local 10 reported.

  • Linda March, an attorney, recently moved back from New York to Surfside before the collapse, WPLG Local 10 reported.

  • Harry Rosenberg was visiting his daughter, Malky Weiss, and her husband, Bennie Weiss, friends told WPLG Local 10. All of them are missing, the station reported.

  • Family and friends are searching for Michael Altman, according to a family statement sent to WPLG Local 10.

  • Oresme Gil Guerra and Betty Guerra lived on the 9th floor, WPLG Local 10 reported.

  • Leon Oliwkowicz, 79, and Christina Elvira Oliwkowicz, 74, have not been found, their daughter told WPLG Local 10.

  • Gabriella Cattarossi and daughter, Estella, are missing, along with Cattarossi’s elderly parents, a friend told WPLG Local 10.

  • Luis Andres Bermudez and Ana Ortiz are missing, family told WPLG Local 10. Bermudez’s cousin told the station that Bermudez has muscular dystrophy and can’t walk.

  • Nicole and Ruslan Manashirov moved into the apartment just two months ago after they got married, WPLG Local 10 reported.

  • Simon Segal lived on the 11th floor, WPLG Local 10 reported.

  • Rosi Maza-Saez didn’t live at the building but was staying there overnight, loved ones told WPLG Local 10.

  • Richard Augustine and Elaine Sabino are missing, WPLG Local 10 reported.

  • Maria Rovirosa and her husband, Ricky, are missing, NBC Miami reported.

  • Ana Mora lived on the 10th floor with her husband, Juan, NBC Miami reported.

  • A friend of Estelle Hedaya has not been able to contact her, the New York Daily News reported.

  • Ruslan Manshirov and Nicole Doran-Manshirov lived on the seventh floor, NBC Miami reported.

Contributing: Thomas J. Weber, Fresh Take Florida; Adam Regan, The News-Press/Naples Daily News; Nada Hassanein and Mary Claire Malloy, USA TODAY; Antonio Fins, Palm Beach Post; The Associated Press.

Contact News Now Reporter Christine Fernando at cfernando@usatoday.com or follow her on Twitter at @christinetfern.

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