American News Jun 25, 2021 2:35 PM EST

Death count rises in Surfside condo building collapse

After a high-rise condo building partially collapsed early Tuesday, leaving 4 dead and numerous people injured, bystander Nicholas Balboa described discovering a boy crying for help in the rubble.

Death count rises in Surfside condo building collapse
Hannah Nightingale Washington DC
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As of Friday morning 4 people were pronounced dead as a result of the Champlain Towers condo building collapse in Surfside, Florida. While 120 people have now been accounted for, the number of those unaccounted for climbed to 159, Mayor Daniella Levin Cava said in a news conference.

Search and rescue efforts at the scene continued tirelessly through the night with efforts continuing, as Cava stated, "because we still have hope we will find people alive," according to the New York Post.

Bystander Nicholas Balboa described discovering a boy crying for help in the rubble. Balboa, who was walking his dog near his home close to Champlain Towers, told CNN he "felt the ground shake, felt like an earthquake." He said he rushed towards the partially collapsed Surfside, Florida condo tower, where he heard a boy crying for help.

Balboa said the first thoughts that came to his mind when he saw the debris from building "were the images of 9/11," and that the scene "was almost out of a horror movie.”

"I was thinking to myself, 'How could anyone survive?'" Balboa told CNN.

"As I was thinking that, I heard a voice yelling," he said, adding that as he approached, he saw the boy "sticking his hand up through the debris and I could see his hand and fingers wiggling."

Balboa recalled another person climbing up into the rubble to help, before going to find first responders to assist.

"So then they began their efforts to get him out. It was him and his mother. We could hear him. We could see him clearly. His mom, we weren’t able to see, we weren’t able to hear her, so I don’t know what her status is, but God willing, she’s OK," Balboa continued.

"He was obviously sleeping," Balboa said. The boy was found under his bed frame and mattress. "I can only imagine how many people were in their apartments either sleeping or watching TV or just whatever, just living their lives, unbeknownst to them the building was about to break away."

Balboa also stated how lucky he was to be in the right place at the right time to find the child.

"I have no idea if it wasn’t for us — myself and the other gentleman — being on the back side of the building and as quiet as it was, I have no idea how long it would have been until they found him," he added.

In an interview with Hannity Thursday night, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis called the event a "real tragedy" and a "traumatic experience" for those that escaped the quick collapse of the building.

DeSantis said that they would be investigating the cause of the building collapse.

DeSantis has issued a state of emergency order that would provide assistance for the families impacted by the collapse as well as allow all necessary resources to be diverted to the area including law enforcement and other emergency personnel, the order said.

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