Sophia López Moreira, the sister-in-law to the president of Paraguay, is among the 150 feared missing in the Miami collapse. Moreira, whose sister is married to Mario Abdo Benítez, is missing alongside her family, who are possibly trapped among the rubble.
The building, which collapsed early morning Thursday, was a large oceanfront condo near Miami Beach. At least one person is confirmed dead, and 10 more have been injured. A massive search-and-rescue response is underway, with emergency teams looking for a possible 159 people trapped in the wreckage. One of those people, Sophia López Moreira, is the sister to President Mario Abdo Benitez’s wife, Silvana.
Sophia López Moreira, her husband Luis Pettengill, and their three young children are reported missing, confirmed by Paraguay’s foreign ministry on Thursday. Euclides Acevedo, Paraguay’s foreign minister, told reporters during interviews that members of the president’s family are still missing. The ministry is closely monitoring the situation.
Besides the family, Lady Luna Villalba, a worker who was accompanying the family, is also missing. Acevedo claimed that the ministry and consul are “frantically” attempting to make contact with authorities and officials were “going through all of Miami’s hospitals” to find any traces of Sophia López Moreira and her family.
The 12-story Miami-Dade apartment building reportedly collapsed overnight, and the incident has required every available emergency team to control the damage. Sophia Moreira’s family owns a condo inside the Champlain Towers South beachfront building, and the family allegedly received their Covid-19 vaccines hours before the tragedy. June 23, the day they received their vaccines, was also Luis Pettengill’s birthday.
Family and friends of the 159 missing people have been frantically searching for answers, posting pictures and videos of those that may be trapped beneath the wreckage, in an attempt to garner any new information. A famed plastic surgeon from Argentina, Andres Galfrasconi, has been reported missing, along with his partner and their newly-adopted six-year-old daughter.
The Champlain Tower South has 136 units, 55 of which collapsed. So far, “only 35 occupants, including those injured and killed, were pulled from the rubble,” according to ABC. A young boy was one such occupant who was found alive in the wreckage, though it is assumed that his parents are deceased.
Investigators are trying to understand what happened to cause the collapse, but so far, teams have been focused on rescue and recovery. It was said that roof work was happening at the time, but a connection has not been made.
People inside the building described the collapse as an earthquake. “The whole building shook like an earthquake. I opened my sliding glass and I saw a plume of dust and then I opened the door and I saw that the building had pancaked in the back,” one woman said, who lives on the ninth floor of the Surfside Building.
Residents of the surrounding areas have been relocated and Florida Governor, Ron DeSantis, is “bracing for some bad news” given “the destruction that we’re seeing.” DeSantis is traveling to South Florida to offer his support.
Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said that at least 10 people were treated for injuries on site. “Two of them were then transported to a local hospital, where one died,” according to Burkett. Fifteen families have walked away from the wreckage unharmed, and three people are being treated at Aventura Hospital and Medical Center.