An Indian-American couple and their child remain missing after a 12-story residential building collapsed in Florida, United States, on June 24, reported PTI on Monday.
Search and rescue teams have been scouring the site immediately after 55 of the building’s 136 units fell. As per the official statement, nine people are dead, and 150 are still missing.
Vishal Patel, 42, his wife, Bhavna Patel, 38, and their one-year-old daughter Aishani Patel are suspected to be among the missing people, their niece Sarina Patel told CNN, adding that Bhavna is four months pregnant.
Sarina said she spoke to her family last on Father’s Day. “I had called them to say I had just booked a flight to visit them as they had been asking me to see their home and to meet their daughter,” elaborated Sarina. “I couldn’t meet her because of the pandemic.”
They were home at the time of building collapse, she said, talking about the mishap. “We have tried calling them several times, but there’s been no answer or text messages. They haven’t contacted anybody.”
According to the British media, Bhavna is a British and US citizen.
Vishal and Bhavna were a “very loving” family closely associated with their religious community, a family friend of the Patels, Umma Kannayan, told the BBC. “Aishani was like the little baby of the temple.”
Although Umma was waiting with Patel’s family’s relatives for news, “not much information has been shared” about the victims.
“I think all of us, the family included, and the people that are closely involved with the temple community would want to know the list of survivors currently present,” she stated. “Probably from there some hope either might be given or shattered, but some names out there would be helpful for all.”
In the meantime, the painstaking lookout for survivors is ongoing as families waiting for news are increasing the fear. While some are praying for a miracle, others have already begun to talk about their loved ones down memory lane.
On June 24, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency with a building partially collapse at the Champion Towers South Condo, about seven miles away from Miami Beach, leaving at least five dead and 156 missings.
Post this incident, President Joe Biden on June 25 approved an emergency declaration for Florida, making federal aid available to the state.