Beachfront condominium collapses in South Florida

A portion of the Champlain Towers collapsed in Surfside, Florida, Thursday. At least three people have been killed and authorities are urgently searching for 99 others who may be trapped in rubble.
5:44 | 06/25/21

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Transcript for Beachfront condominium collapses in South Florida
And we begin with that devastating scene near Miami. The catastrophic condominium collapse in surfside, Florida. The first call, 1:30 this morning when most residents were likely asleep. And we warn you tonight, the surveillance from a nearby building showing the collapse is difficult to watch. These are the images of the 12-story condominium coming down in just a matter of seconds. Those who survived it said it sounded like thunder, the roar of the building crumbling to the ground. The cloud of gray smoke filling the air. First responders rushing to the scene, rescuing people from the part of the building still standing. Walls ripped away, bedrooms open to the air. You could see the beds, the furniture where moments before, residents were sleeping. First responders risking their own lives, not knowing if that part of the building would collapse, as well. Tonight, new images just coming in, miami-dade firefighters now looking for any possible survivors in the parking garage underneath the building. Their bravery going in and the uncertainty, whether anymore walls or ceilings could give. Families, neighbors hugging one another. So many shelters nearby now. Some still in their pajamas. And tonight here, the before and the images of the building as it stood for 40 years, built in 1981. And this is what it looks like tonight. A huge part of that building simply gone. This evening, we have it all covered for you. The urgent search under way. Our interview with the man who heard a boy under the rubble. And of course, the questions, how could this happen? The building just undergoing a recertification process, an inspector reportedly there as recently as yesterday. We have team coverage tonight, beginning with ABC's Victor Oquendo on the scene in Florida. Reporter: Tonight, this beachfront condominium in south Florida is a disaster zone. This whole building right here is gone. The whole back side of it. Reporter: Security camera video from an adjacent condo capturing the terrifying moment a portion of Champlain towers collapsed in surfside, killing at least three. And now the urgent but delicate search for the 99 unaccounted for, some feared trapped in the pancaked remains of the complex. Firefighters first on the scene, carefully maneuvering slabs of concrete. Hearing a voice cry, "Don't leave me, don't leave me." Discovering this young boy, one of at least two people pulled fro the rubble. Around 1:30 A.M., sleeping residents are jolted from bed by a loud noise, some describing it as a clap of thunder. But it wasn't a storm, the back of the building was giving way. This is going to be an entire building. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12. 12 or 13 stories. Reporter: Those inside running down to the street. Are you okay, man? I'm okay. It was like an earthquake. Reporter: More than 80 fire rescue vehicles racing to the scene. I have never seen so many ambulances and police in my life all at once. Reporter: Residents seeking refuge on balconies waving down rescue teams. We still have people standing upstairs that need to be evacuated. Reporter: Fire crews raising baskets to bring them to safety, at least 35 pulled from the building. That building is in imminent danger of collapsing potentially, and they're up there looking for people in the building. So those guys, those are real heroes. Reporter: Search dogs brought in. And the real heartbreak for me is that, you know, we had the dogs out there this morning looking for people, trying to find people in the rubble, but we just didn't get any hits. P Reporter: Rescuers later shifting their operations to underneath the rubble. We conducted an assessment, sonar Ander are ch cams on top of the rubble. Sonar is those listening devices. Reporter: The condo 12 stories tall with 136 units. The entire northeast corner of the building, facing the beach, destroyed. From this vantage point along the beach, you get a much better scope of the devastation. Just look, the back half of that building, 55 units just gone. This building home to families, small children. These bunk beds hanging on in what remains of this bedroom. Gabe nir and his family moved to apartment 111 just months ago. We just ran for our lives and it was nothing but just white, thick cloud of dust. Reporter: We met Nicolas Fernandez, desperate for word on his close friends, two fathers and their daughter, staying in his family's condo. You've tried calling them. You're trying everything. You can't get a hold of them? Nonstop, nonstop with my family and just with like, you know, having like at least a hope of like maybe the rescue team will hear the cell phone and they will have a clue. Reporter: Families gathering, waiting for news. Holding photos of their loved ones. My 12-year-old daughter, who is absolutely, like, beyond shock. She's so close to her father, Reporter: Soriya Cohen's husband Brad and brother-in-law Gary among the missing. Do you still have hope? Honestly no. Reporter: Why? Who's going to survive that rubble? Just really impossible just to imagine what these families are going through and her answer to your question right there. Let's get to Victor, who has been on the scene since early this morning and Victor, we were on the air together this afternoon when they revealed that number of the unaccounted for. It's truly staggering. And authorities say they've had real trouble tracking down information because this building in particular had full-time and seasonal residents? Reporter: David, that's why this has been such a challenge. This condo, it has full-time residents, seasonal residents, likely in and out of town during the winter and vacationers. Authorities have had to work with information from neighbors and word of mouth. Officials are hoping they will be able to find some survivors. The crew will not stop at nightfall. We're told that the workers will simply pursue other paths. David? Their bravery continues into the night. Victor Oquendo, thank you.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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