Miami archbishop prays for victims of condominium building collapse

Surfside rubble Rubble from partial collapse of the Champlain Towers condominium complex, Surfside, Florida, June 24, 2021./ Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Miami

The archbishop of Miami on Thursday prayed for victims of a condominium building collapse in Surfside, Florida.

“Our hearts go out to all those affected by the tragedy,” Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami said on Thursday. He promised to pray “for the victims, their families, and first responders. May the Lord give them strength.”      

Around 1:30 a.m. local time Thursday morning, June 24, the Champlain Towers – a 12-story beachfront condominium complex in Surfside, Florida – partially collapsed. As of Friday morning, four people were declared dead and 159 people were still unaccounted for.

“Search and rescue teams continue to sift through the rubble to find survivors and to recover the bodies of those who did not,” Archbishop Wenski said on Thursday. “Our Catholic Charities and local clergy have joined with other voluntary agencies and faith leaders to assist in whatever way they can.”

Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Miami is collecting donations for those affected by the collapse. A staffer told CNA that the organization is also offering counseling for those affected, and is looking into temporary housing options for residents who are now homeless.

According to the archdiocesan Catholic Charities Facebook page, 12 families from nearby St. Joseph Catholic Church were residing in the Champlain Towers complex. “Fr. Juan Sosa, pastor of those families has asked us to continue to pray for those affected,” the Facebook post stated.

According to a media briefing Friday morning by the Miami-Dade Police Department, 120 people have been accounted for in the building collapse, with 159 people unaccounted for and four dead. Heavy machinery is being used to clear rubble as the search for victims continues.

On Friday morning, President Joe Biden approved an emergency declaration, authorizing the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to coordinate relief efforts.

Mass was scheduled to be offered at St. Joseph’s parish on Friday morning for all those affected by the collapse, according to the archdiocese.

Some owners of units in the complex are suing the condo association for failure to “secure and safeguard” their “lives and property,” NPR reported on Friday. Land around the complex showed signs of sinking in the 1990s, according to data analyzed by a Florida International University professor which was reported by a number of outlets.

This story is developing.

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