Miami Building Collapse Lawsuit Filed Seeking $5m in Damages: 'This Was Preventable'

The first lawsuit has been brought against the Champlain Towers Condominium Association following the collapse of its tower block close to Miami. At least four people died in the disaster on Thursday and more than 150 are missing.

The 12-story beachfront condo in Surfside, a town six miles from Miami Beach, collapsed at around 1.30 a.m. Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava told reporters on Friday morning that 120 people were accounted for. Another 159 people were unaccounted for.

On Thursday, search teams heard banging and other noises coming from the rubble, but no voices.

The class action suit was filed late on Thursday night on behalf of Manuel Drezner and others "similarly situated," reported Local 10.

The lawsuit states: "According to public statements made by Defendant's attorney Ken Direktor, 'repair needs had been identified' with regard to certain structural issues but had not been implemented; one of the most breathtakingly frightening tragedies in the history of South Florida followed."

The suit alleges that the disaster could have been prevented "through the exercise of ordinary care, safety measures and oversight."

It adds: "The collapse of Champlain Towers South was due to the Defendant's inadequate protection of both the safety of the residents and the visitors to the building."

The suit is seeking more than $5 million. Drezner is "a nearby property owner," according to USA Today.

Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett confirmed on Thursday that roof work was underway at the building and a concrete restoration project was also planned.

"The engineer has been working for many months to develop the specifications to work with the city," Direktor told Local 10 News. "What was in its infancy was the actual construction, which had not started with the sole exception that they had already begun on the roof.

"I don't think we're anywhere near a point where we can develop an understanding of what caused this."

The Associated Press reported on Friday that relatives of Paraguay's first lady, including her sister, were among the missing. Paraguayan Foreign Minister Euclides Acevedo told local media that six people from his country were unaccounted for. A total of 22 South Americans are missing, AP reported.

The Times of Israel reported that 20 of those missing were Jewish, although it is not clear if any are Israeli citizens.

The mayor of Miami-Dade said authorities "still have hope" of finding survivors.

President Joe Biden has approved an emergency declaration in the state of Florida and ordered federal assistance to bolster local disaster response efforts.

Dozens Presumed Missing After Building Collapse
Maria Fernanda Martinez and Mariana Cordeiro look on as search and rescue operations continue at the site of the partially collapsed 12-story Champlain Towers South condo on June 25 in Surfside, Florida. A lawsuit has been brought against the Champlain Towers Condominium Association. Joe Raedle/Getty