'You Gotta Get Us Out': 911 Calls From Trapped Surfside Residents Released

The Miami-Dade Police Department has released close to two dozen 911 calls that were made shortly after the Champlain Towers condo building collapse, as the search-and-recovery mission for the remaining victims continues.

A section of the Champlain Towers, a condo building located at 8777 Collins Avenue in Surfside, Florida, collapsed at around 1:00 a.m. on Thursday June 24, killing at least 97 people.

On Wednesday, the Miami-Dade Police Department released several recordings made by unnamed people in the immediate aftermath of the collapse, as frantic residents called the police in disbelief as they tried to make sense of the disaster and family members urged the authorities to help their relatives, reported the Miami Herald.

"Oh my God! The whole building collapsed!" one caller said to police, as another pleaded with the authorities: "I'm in the Champlain Towers, something is going on here. You gotta get us out of here."

Another caller also emphasized the need for help from the authorities, as they said "We've gotta get out. Hurry up, hurry up. There's a big explosion." They added: "There's a lot of smoke. I can't see anything. We gotta go. I can't see nothing but smoke."

Engineers reported in 2018 that the building had "major structural damage," but the cause of the collapse has not yet been pinpointed by the authorities, as the main focus for officials at the moment is still the recovery mission.

One unnamed woman told an operator in a 911 call that she was stuck on the second floor and could not find an exit, telling the official: "We didn't know which stairs we can get out." A man on the same call added: "There's people yelling, saying that they're stuck." He then asked: "Is it safe for us to stay here?"

The pair continued talking to the operator as they attempted to find a way to escape through the building's garage, but they had to turn back when they saw the area was flooded.

They were apparently joined by other people in the building as they went back to the second floor, as the man later told the operator: "There are people in the rubble yelling, by the way."

One woman who was stuck in the flooded garage asked the authorities for help, saying: "A bunch of us are in the garage but we cannot get out." Someone apparently outside of the area asked the operator to save her because "if the building comes down it will come down on my head."

Rescue crews managed to save some of the building's residents from balconies and landings in the hours immediately after the collapse. The remaining structure was demolished on July 4 in order to protect rescue workers from falling debris amid extreme weather conditions.

Family members of residents at the condo building also called the police for help in the aftermath of the collapse, with one woman saying in the 911 calls: "My sister lives there. I don't know, something happened to it.

"I don't know, half of the building isn't there anymore. She is alive and she is there, she's in apartment [muted]. If someone can get her out through the balcony."

Search teams are continuing their efforts to find any unaccounted-for people believed to still be under the rubble after the rescue mission was shifted to a recovery effort last week following two weeks of searching.

During a press conference on Wednesday, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava promised that the authorities would continue looking through the rubble until everyone unaccounted for is found.

"The process of making identifications has become more difficult as time goes on," Cava said. "We must rely heavily on the work of the medical examiner's office to identify human remains. The process is very methodical and it's careful and it does take time."

Newsweek has contacted the Miami-Dade Police Department for comment.

Surfside collapse 911 calls
Members of the South Florida Urban Search and Rescue team look for possible survivors in the partially collapsed 12-story Champlain Towers South condo building on June 27, 2021 in Surfside, Florida. 911 calls from Surfside residents during the collapse were released by the Miami-Dade Police Department on Wednesday July 14. Giorgio Viera/Getty Images