- Visual Journalism Team
- BBC News
That’s how long it took a 12-story residential building in Surfside, north of Miami Beach, to collapse.
Rescue teams immediately began a desperate search for survivors in the rubble.
This is what we know about what happened.
Everything happened very fast
A large portion of the Champlain Towers building, on the Surfside boardwalk, collapsed in the early hours of Thursday.
Everything happened in a few seconds.
People described hearing what appeared to be like thunder before seeing a huge cloud of dust.
A witness compared the scene to the September 11, 2001 attacks on the Twin Towers in New York.
Almost half the building collapsed
Champlain Towers had 136 apartments and 55 of them were destroyed, leaving a mountain of rubble.
Images taken before and after the collapse show the extent of the damage.
The shattered and compressed layers of the building’s collapsed floors can be seen on the ground and were described as a “stack of pancakes.”
The collapse occurred while many were still sleeping.
The residents’ furniture and belongings could be seen in what was left of their homes.
Many were trapped in the rubble
At least four people have died, but dozens more are missing.
As families desperately await news, search teams work around the clock using sonar cameras and trained dogs to search through surviving debris.
Crews also dug a tunnel from an underground parking garage under the building in an effort to find victims.
But authorities say the efforts are dangerous because debris could fall on them.
The building was “sinking”
It is not yet clear what caused the 40-year-old building to collapse.
But the structure was undergoing a standard “recertification” process and required repairs, authorities said.
Experts who studied the area where the building stood said that the land on which it was built was sinking during the 1990s.
The study by a researcher at Florida International University found that the area around the building, built on reclaimed wetlands, had been sinking at a rate of two millimeters per year for the past three decades.
However, the report’s author, Professor Shimon Wdowinski, cautioned that the study was just a snapshot in time and said that subsidence of the ground alone was not likely to cause a building to collapse.
By Dominic Bailey, David Brown, Ana Lucía González, Mike Hills, Lucy Rodgers, Joy Roxas and Sean Willmott.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.