Florida building collapse: What we know about those missing, dead

ByTheresa Waldrop, Alisha Ebrahimji and Ray Sanchez, CNN, CNNWire
Sunday, July 4, 2021
Stories of survivors, missing in Florida condo collapse
Loved ones share stories of some of the people who remain missing at the site of the seaside Florida condo.

SURFSIDE, Fla. -- The dead and unaccounted for residents of the Champlain Towers South in Surfside, Florida, reflected the area's rich cultural diversity, an international tragedy that has touched members of a tight-knit Jewish community and families from as far away as Argentina, Paraguay and Colombia.

Dozens of people remained unaccounted for after the collapse of part of the 13-story residential building. Search and rescue teams have been feverishly scouring the site since shortly after 55 of the building's 136 units fell on Thursday.

Officials confirmed 24 deaths as of Saturday. The victims range in age from 4 to 92.

Twenty-two of the 24 victims have been identified: Michael David Altman, 50; Luis Bermudez, 26; Claudio Bonnefoy, 85; Maria Bonnefoy, 69; Graciela Cattarossi, 48; Magaly Delgado, 80; Christina Beatriz Elvira, 74; Bonnie Epstein, 56; Stacie Fang, 54; Andreas Giannitsopoulos, 21; Emma Guara, 4; Lucia Guara, 10; Marcus Joseph Guara, 52; Frank Kleiman, 55; Manuel LaFont, 54; Antonio Lozano, 82; Gladys Lozano, 80; Hilda Noriega, 92; Leon Oliwkowicz, 80; Anna Ortiz, 46; Anaely Rodriguez, 42; and Gonzalo Torres, 81.

Authorities said it's still a search-and-rescue operation, but no one has been found alive since hours after the collapse last Thursday.

Here's what we know about those confirmed dead and those still unaccounted for.

Confirmed deaths:

Michael Altman

Fifty-year-old Michael Altman, left, was described as as a selfless man who had a love for life.

Nick Altman describes his dad Michael, 50, as a selfless man who had a love for life, racquetball, and his family.

"He wasn't just my dad, he was my best friend, and I would tell him about everything," Nick said. "Every success I had I would grab my phone or drive by to see him, every troubling situation, I spoke to him right away."

Michael would text his son twice a day to check in, once in the morning and once at night. The morning after the collapse, the chilling silence of his phone told Altman something was wrong.

Altman told CNN his dad was a dual citizen and came to the US from Costa Rica when he was 4, and the condo on the 11th floor of the building had been in their family since the 1980's when it was built.

Michael was a champion racquetball player in his younger days, according to Altman, and shared that gift with his two sons, who frequently let him use his skills against them.

"Playing racquetball with my dad is one of my favorite memories," Altman said. "He taught me and my brother Jeffery how to play racquetball and playing games of 21 trying to beat him ... we never beat him once."

Michael was also a great friend to his neighbors in the complex; Nick said several survivors have asked for him. "He's just a one-of-a-kind guy, no one can ever replace him or be like him in my life, I've never met someone as lovable as him," Altman said.

Michael is survived by his sons, his parents Anita and Allen, and his sister Debbie.

Maria and Claudio Bonnefoy

Bettina Obias said her aunt and uncle, Maria and Claudio Bonnefoy, are missing.

The worried daughters of a Chilean man and his wife who lived on the 10th floor of Champlain Towers South arrived at the scene with growing anger over what they're learning about problems with the building before it collapsed.

Sisters Anne Marie and Pascale Bonnefoy said their father Claudio Bonnefoy and his Filipino-American wife Maria Obias Bonnefoy had been spending little time in the apartment, and probably wouldn't have been among the missing if not for the pandemic.

Bonnefoy, an 85-year-old lawyer, is the second cousin of former Chilean President and High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, and both he and his wife worked for international organizations, they said.

"We are just processing all this but this is starting to make me angry because reports from years ago reporting serious structural damage to the building are little by little being known," said Pascale Bonnefoy. "Notifications that have been ignored, or even that the building was built on wetlands, that the construction was with sand and that the salt began to corrode the iron."

Graciela and Stella Cattarossi

Graciela Cattarossi, 48, her 7-year-old daughter Stella, and her parents Graciela and Gino Cattarossi are all missing.

Argentine Graciela Cattarossi was a beloved mother and friend who works as an independent photographer for hotels, magazines, banks and airlines from different parts of the world, said Kathryn Rooney Vera, a friend who has known Cattarossi since 2008.

The most important thing in her world, however, was her 7-year-old daughter Stella. Both were confirmed dead as of Saturday, according to a family friend.

Cattarossi, 48, a single mother, lived in Champlain Towers South with Stella and her own parents, Graciela and Gino Cattarossi.

Her parents are still listed as missing, along with Cattarossi's sister, Andrea, an architect in Pilar, Argentina, who was visiting.

Vera said Cattarossi was a dedicated mother whose devotion to her child is "unparalleled." She also described her as a "very hard worker, a beautiful person and beloved by everyone."

Cattarossi and Vera were exchanging text messages on Wednesday night, just hours before the building collapsed. The photographer took professional photos of Vera's fourth pregnancy years ago and presented them as a gift to celebrate what they believed would be Vera's last child.

"She was happy to know that I was pregnant again," said Vera. "We are devastated by what happened."

Vera said that Graciela Cattarossi has lived in Miami for decades.

Magaly Delgado

Magaly "Maggie" Ramsey missed a phone call from her mother on Wednesday night, thinking she could just call back in the morning. But she hasn't gotten the chance.

Ramsey's mother, 80-year-old Magaly Delgado, lived on the ninth floor of the building for more than 10 years. Ramsey said her mother was trying to "live her best life" in Champlain Towers South condos by the water.

"She loved the building, she loved the community," Ramsey said of her mother.

Ramsey learned of the collapse on the news, she said.

"Never in a thousand years did I think that was her building or that her building is just not there anymore," she said. "But that's how we found out, so we quickly packed up and headed down."

Delgado, who was originally from Cuba, was a "woman of faith" who taught Ramsey to have faith as well, and while the family is "burdened with such despair," they have faith "in the miracles that God can create," Ramsey said.

"The worst thing is not to know," Ramsey said. "Knowing, whatever the outcome may be, you hope that they didn't suffer if something did occur. But knowing is a little bit healing in itself."

Bonnie Epstein

David and Bonnie Epstein lived in unit 901 with their dog Chase, said Bonnie's cousin Joey Feldman.

David was a retired successful real estate investor who loved to jet ski and kite surf. The couple have a son who lives in New York.

Feldman said the family is very small.

"Bonnie was like my sister growing up," said Feldman, who lives in Los Angeles. "She took me to my first concert."

He said he is devastated but is praying for a miracle.

"I am holding out hope," he said. "I came into work to get my mind off of it. But no sleep."

David Epstein remains missing.

Stacie Dawn Fang

Nicholas Balboa heard someone scream, so he followed the sound. It turned out to be a boy, trapped in the rubble from the Florida condo collapse.

The first victim of the Surfside building collapse was identified Friday as 54-year-old Stacie Fang.

She is the mother of Jonah Handler, the boy who was pulled from the rubble alive, her family said in a statement.

"There are no words to describe the tragic loss of our beloved Stacie," the Fang and Handler family statement said. "The members of the Fang and Handler family would like to express our deepest appreciation for the outpouring of sympathy, compassion and support we have received. The many heartfelt words of encouragement and love have served as a much-needed source of strength during this devastating time."

The Guara girls and parents

The Guara family, including Lucia, 10, and Emma, 4, were identified as victims of the Florida condo collapse.

The youngest victims identified so far are 10-year-old Lucia Guara and 4-year-old Emma Guara; they are the daughters of 52-year-old Marcus Guara, whose body was recovered on June 26. His wife, 42-year-old Anaely Rodriguez, also died in the collapse.

Guara and his family's identity were confirmed by his employer, Kassatex New York.

CEO and founder of Kassatex, Ernesto Khoudari, sent the following statement to CNN in an email:

"The Kassatex family is deeply saddened over the loss of Marcus Guara and his beautiful family. From the moment he started working with us, his creativity, vivacity for the business, charming smile, and never give up attitude fueled his passion for our company, and his relationships he made along the way. He was an amazing asset to the team and will be missed immensely."

Manuel LaFont

This image shows Manuel LaFont (right), one of those confirmed to have died in the Florida building collapse.

Manuel LaFont, 54, was a proud father, a baseball fan and a business consultant who lived on the building's eighth floor. He had a 10-year-old son and 13-year-old daughter with his ex-wife Adriana LaFont, the Miami Herald reported.

Adriana asked her friends on Facebook to pray the rosary for Manny before his body was found. "So many memories inside the walls that are no more today, forever engraved experiences in the heart," she wrote.

LaFont, a Houston native, coached his son's baseball team, the Astros, at North Shore Park, just a mile away from the Champlain. He was a parishioner at St. Patrick Catholic Church in Miami Beach. The parish's school parents gathered Saturday afternoon to pray for LaFont and his neighbors who were still missing.

An alumnus of Sharpstown High School in Houston, LaFont had worked across Latin America and the Caribbean for a manufacturing firm, leading a division focusing on roadway safety that built crash cushions and moveable barriers, the Herald reported.

"I got into this industry specifically because I don't want to sell widgets. I want to help people. I want to do something good in this world," he said at an industry conference in 2016. "When I die, I want to say that my life meant something."

Antonio and Gladys Lozano

Gladys and Antonio Lozano, who had been married for 59 years, were killed when their condominium collapsed in Surfside, Fla.

The married couple was identified as victims of the collapse on Saturday.

Married for 59 years, the couple's grandson said they always sparred over who would die first -- neither willing to live without the other.

"It's tragic but it's strangely unsettling that I have peace knowing they would constantly play argue about who would pass first," Brian Lozano told ABC News in a statement. "But in the end ... they got what they both wanted. Each other."

"Both were avid donators to non profit organizations especially to cancer since my grandmother lost her mother to the sickness," the statement continued. "Always providing for anyone who's in need or just to spark a smile on someone's face. Their souls were truly beautiful and are now blessed."

Sergio Lozano, the couple's son, ate dinner with his parents Wednesday night and lived in the tower across from his parents, he told Miami ABC affiliate WPLG. He said he heard a rumble at 1 a.m. and got out of bed and went out onto the balcony.

"I tell [my wife], 'It's not there,'" he told WPLG. "And she's yelling, 'What do you mean?' 'My parents apartment is not there, it's gone!' and I just ran downstairs," Lozano said.

The Lozanos lived in apartment No. 903.

Hilda Noriega

This photo provided by Sally Noriega shows Hilda Noriega
Courtesy of Sally Noriega via AP

Hilda Noriega had called Champlain Towers home for more than 20 years. But six years after her husband died, the 92-year-old was ready to leave.

"We were going to move her into our home and her condo was up for sale," said Sally Noriega, her daughter-in-law.

Sally Noriega said her mother-in-law was extremely active and loved living so close to the ocean and to her friends. But, she said, "when you lose a spouse you want to be surrounded by family ... and she wanted to spend more time with her family and grandchildren."

Hilda Noriega's daughter-in-law described her as "an extremely loving and sweet person," who built a life with her husband and raised a family after coming to the U.S. from Cuba in 1960.

"She was just one of those people who from the first time she met a person she instantly loved that person and that person instantly loved her," said Sally Noriega, who rushed to the scene of the collapse with her husband, Carlos Noriega.

There, they found a reminder of the particularly strong bond Hilda Noriega shared with members of her church group. As they stood trying to hold onto hope amid the rubble, Carlos Noriega noticed an envelope peeking out from under his shoe.

"On the outside it was addressed to Hilda and the card had butterflies on it and it was a birthday card signed by her prayer group," said Sally Noriega. "They had taken her out for her birthday and they all signed the card."

Sally Noriega said the family does not know what to make of the card found among so much debris and chaos.

But, "we are a family of faith," she said. "We'll just leave it at that."

Leon and Cristina Oliwkowicz

Leon Oliwkowicz, 80, and his wife Cristina Beatriz de Oliwkowicz, 74, lived on the 8th floor of the condo tower for several years, according to Venezuelan journalist Shirley Varnagy, a close friend of their family.

They had already sent their children to live in the U.S. from Venezuela, and then joined them as the economic and political crisis worsened in their native country, said Rabbi Moshe Perlstein, dean of the Yeshivas Ohr Eliyahu-Lubavitch Mesivta, an Orthodox Jewish School in Chicago where one of their daughters, Leah Fouhal, works as an office manager.

Perlstein flew to Florida to support Fouhal after the disaster as she waited anxiously to learn her parents' fate. Late Sunday, authorities announced that their bodies had been recovered.

"On Friday, she was there and she was standing a few blocks away, and smoke was coming from the (collapsed building). And she tells me, 'I just hope I'll be able to bury my parents instead of their ashes...' And then, thank God she was able to bury her parents, not the ashes," he said.

"The Jewish people have unfortunately known too many cases where we have buried ashes. We don't want to bury people, but it's better than burying ashes," he said as he prepared for their funeral on Monday.

Perlstein said the couple was known for their generosity: Three years ago, they donated a valuable Torah scroll to the school in memory of Leon Oliwkowicz's parents.

"He was a person that enjoyed when he gave, he was happy. He loved giving," Perlstein said. "With his wife, they were very dedicated to their children, helping the children, doing anything they could for their children," he said. "It was their life -- giving to the family and giving charity to others."

Ana Ortiz, Luis Bermudez Jr. and Frank Kleiman

This image shows Luis Bermudez, who was confirmed to have died in the Florida building collapse.

Luis Bermudez, of San Juan, Puerto Rico, had battled muscular dystrophy for years and used a wheelchair. The 26-year-old man lived with his mother, Ana Ortiz, on the seventh floor of the Champlain Towers South. They were identified among the 11 who died after the building collapsed Thursday.

His father, also named Luis Bermudez, texted the AP saying "my son is a hero." He also wrote on Facebook that he could not believe he's gone.

"Now rest in peace and without any obstacles in heaven," he wrote. "I will see you soon my Luiyo."

In honor of Luis, family members on Monday laid flowers in the ocean at a beach near the site of the building collapse.

Ortiz, 46, had just gotten married to Frankie Kleiman. Alex Garcia, the couple's close friend, told The Miami Herald he had set them up on a blind date. Kleiman lived with his wife and stepson on the same floor as his brother Jay Kleiman, who was in town for a funeral, and their mother Nancy Kress Levin. Jay Kleiman and Nancy Kress Levin are still listed as missing.

Ortiz was described as a woman who was committed to giving her son the best possible life.

"She's a rock star," Garcia told the Herald. "And on top of that a super mom."

Frank Kleiman, identified as Ortiz's current partner, was also identified by authorities as a victim of the collapse. His brother, Jay Kleiman, and their mother are unaccounted for.

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Here are the stories of some of the missing:

Tzvi and Ingrd "Itty" Ainsworth

Tzvi and Ingrd "Itty" Ainsworth were celebrating the birth of two new grandchildren. Their son in South Africa recently had a baby and their son in Florida had a baby just days ago, their niece Chana Harrel told The Associated Press on Saturday.

The couple, who are in their 60s, lived in Australia for nearly two decades before returning to South Florida to be near their children. The couple had seven children and many live in South Florida, including their daughter just blocks away, she said.

"Every person she encountered, ever in her life, became her friend. Everyone was treated as equals," Chana Wasserman wrote in a Mother's Day blog post to her mother Itty last year. "The guy at the laundromat, the guy working at the fruit market ... "

Ingrid struggled with chronic pain issues, but didn't let that darken her mood. She tried to focus on the positive, a sunny day, a long car ride that would seem tedious to many she reframed as a chance to talk and catch up, he daughter wrote.

"I know I will never be able to match my mother's pure enthusiasm for life but it's inspiring to watch," Wasserman wrote.

Itty's mother, a Holocaust survivor living in Miami Beach, is battling cancer and doesn't know about the tragedy.

"They didn't tell her. She's not well," Harrel. said. "It's absolutely horrific."

Richard Augustine

Richard Augustine, 77, was just hours away from a flight to Chicago, where his daughter, Debbie Hill, had planned to pick him up at the airport.

Instead, she watched video of the condo collapse, and could see her dad's upper-floor unit plummeting, then disappearing in a cloud of dust.

"That was pretty scary to watch," she told ABC7 Chicago. "Immediately I tried to call him and his phone went straight to voicemail."

Three Chicago residents are among the 159 people unaccounted for after a condo building collapsed early Thursday morning in Surfside, Florida.

Augustine had just visited his son in California, and went back to his Florida home to repack for the weekend visit with his daughter.

Augustine grew up in the Chicago area and lived in the suburbs before moving to Florida, where he worked in the air freight industry and planned to retire in the fall.

Cassondra Billedeau-Stratton

Cassondra Stratton, right, is among the missing in the Florida building collapse.

Cassondra Stratton, the wife of Michael Stratton, a Democratic political strategist from Colorado, is among those still believed to be missing, his law firm's spokesperson Lara Day told CNN.

The 40-year-old has worked as an actress, model and Pilates instructor, bringing "a vivacious love of life to everything she does," her husband said in a statement.

"Cassie is a wife, mother and true friend to so many," said Michael Stratton said. He told Denver's KMGH-TV that and his wife spent much of their time during the coronavirus pandemic in the condo they have owned for four years.

Billedeau-Stratton loved walking and biking along the beach, her sister, Stephanie Fonte, told the New York Times. When the sisters were together, she often would make them pose for photos on the beach or near a burst of flowers.

Michael Stratton said he and his wife were talking on the phone when the building collapsed.

"She described that the building was shaking and then ... the phone went dead," he said.

Brad and Gary Cohen

Soriya Cohen told ABC News that her husband, Brad Cohen, a 51-year-old orthopedic surgeon, is missing in the Florida building collapse.

Florida resident Soriya Cohen told ABC News that her husband, Brad Cohen, a 51-year-old orthopedic surgeon, and her brother-in-law, Gary Cohen, a doctor visiting from Alabama, both are missing. Soriya Cohen said they haven't been answering their phones and she does not have hope that they are alive.

"Just look at that rubble," Soriya Cohen told ABC News, pointing at the wreckage.

She said she and her daughter were staying in a different home at the time because their family is in the process of moving. Her son is currently studying abroad and trying to get home, she said.

"It's been surreal," she added. "My daughter has been in absolute shock."

Andrés Galfrascoli, Fabián Nuñez and their daughter among 9 missing Argentines

Argentines Andrés Galfrascoli, 45, his partner Fabián Nuñez, 55, and their daughter, Sofía Galfrascoli Núñez, 6, are among the missing, according to a friend.

The three were on vacation in Florida, staying at the condo of a friend, Nicolás Fernández.

Fernández told CNN en Español he spent time with the couple Wednesday night and made plans to meet up Thursday morning.

"We don't know anything, we don't have any closure and that's what hurts," Fernández told CNN.

Fernández has looked for his friends in local hospitals with no luck.

Nine Argentines were missing as of Thursday afternoon, the country's consulate in Miami said on Twitter.

Gil and Betty Guerra

Gil Guerra and his wife, Betty Guerra, lived on the ninth floor of the building, his daughter said, and there has been no word from them since the tragedy.

Gil Guerra and his wife, Betty Guerra, lived on the ninth floor of the building, his daughter said, and there has been no word from them since the tragedy.

"We're doing our best to stay hopeful," Michelle Guerra told CNN via Facebook Messenger Saturday. "That's what they would want."

Her father and stepmother were in the process of moving out of apartment 910 and had just gotten furniture at their new apartment on Monday, she said.

The couple was renting, and the owner was in the process of selling the unit, according to Guerra, who said she said she last spoke to her dad on Father's Day

"This is all so horrific and bizarre. They are both such caring, hardworking people," Guerra said.

"They only got married late 2017 and have been living it up like two teenagers in love traveling the world and eating all they can together," she said. "They lived a full time together."

Estelle Hedaya

Estelle Hedaya loves to dance. She even calls herself Cha Cha Cha on social media.

Her Miami friends described the Brooklyn native, who lived in unit 604, as a free spirit who loves traveling and new experiences and documented them all on her blog, Follow the Toes.

"She's so vibrant, so social," said Luc Davidson, a friend who's kept vigil at the Surfside hotel where authorities are updating loved ones on those still missing. "She loved spas, dancing and working out. She was so adventurous. She tried a new restaurant every Sunday."

Hedaya works in the jewelry industry and shares details about her life and travels on Instagram.

Days before the building crumbled, she was in Las Vegas, a trip she documented with photos of her lounging poolside at Caesar's Palace. Davidson said the last time they talked Hedaya was excited about her new car, a red Lexus she purchased a week before the condo collapsed.

"Now I really am the lady in red," Hedaya posted on Instagram, alongside an image of the car.

In the comments, friends implored her to let them know that she's OK.

"A lot of people love her," Davidson said. "She's so full of good energy. We are worried about her. We're hoping for a miracle."

Hedaya's friends said she was living her best life as a single woman. On her blog, she calls herself a "New Yorker taking Miami by storm in the most fabulous fashion."

In it she shared details of some of her dating misadventures and urged women to shower themselves with the same love they give others.

Her last blog entry was a love letter to single women everywhere.

"I am here to tell you, children and a husband do not define who you are. DO NOT allow anyone to tell you anything different!," she wrote. "The circle of single friends that I left in NY, are all beautiful, smart, strong, successful and self sufficient women ... They, like myself have chosen to be single rather than settling for an unfulfilling, unhappy relationship."

Nicole Langesfeld and Luis Sadovnic

Nicole Langesfeld and her husband Luis Sadovnic were just starting their lives together when they moved to Champlain Towers South.

Nicole Langesfeld and her husband Luis Sadovnic were just starting their lives together after moving into an apartment on the eighth floor of Champlain Towers South earlier this year after getting married five months ago, her brother Martin Langesfeld told The Associated Press.

Sadovnic proposed to Langesfeld on December 24, 2020, on the beach in front of the building. The Jewish couple married one month later in a private civil ceremony because of COVID-19 restrictions.

Nicole Langesfeld is a commercial litigator whose family is from Argentina, but she was born in the U.S. Sadovnic is an entrepreneur from Venezuela. The apartment where they lived was owned by Sadovnic's grandfather. They met when they studied at the University of Florida in Gainesville.

"I know she is fighting," Martin Langesfeld said of his missing sister.

Nicole Langesfeld, 26, is a bilingual associate in the Miami office of Reed Smith. She began to work as a summer associate in 2018 and one year later was hired as a full-time lawyer. Her practice focuses on litigating and settling insurance coverage on behalf of policyholders. She was a member of the University of Miami Business Law Review.

Nicky, as she is known to friends and family, loves animals. She has a guinea pig named Kali and two dogs, Capo and Zoey.

Sadovnic loved playing golf early on the weekend with his friends before joining Langesfeld on the beach, where they listened to reggaeton, lay out in the sun and swam in the ocean, said Noah Goldberg, a co-worker of Langesfeld. At night, they enjoyed going out to different restaurants and exploring.

Hugh Lumpkin, a partner in the insurance recovery group where Nicole worked, described Langesfeld as a very smart and hard-working lawyer. He said that it is a loss that goes beyond business.

"We are still sad to the bone," Lumpkin said. "We miss her every minute of every day."

Co-workers said she was always smiling, and after working all day long liked to walk on the beach with her dogs. Last week, she began a fitness challenge of 30 minutes of exercise every day on her balcony.

Goldberg said Langesfeld was very funny and always caring for her friends. On Wednesday, Goldberg didn't feel well and Langesfeld called and texted him at 9:45 p.m. to ask how he was feeling. The building collapsed a few hours later.

Ana Barton, a colleague who used to socialize with Langesfeld, said she and others still have hope she will be found alive.

"She is the most beautiful person," Barton said.

Nancy Kress Levin, Jay Kleinman and other Jewish community members

Some members from The Shul of Bal Harbour synagogue are among the people unaccounted for, Rabbi Sholom Lipskar told CNN's Wolf Blitzer.

"This is something that transcends our capacity for understanding," Lipskar said about the collapse. "It's a reality, we accept it and we have to learn as we do in our culture of resilience to move forward."

"The only thing that helps in these times is kindness and empathy and togetherness, because you can't take away the reality," Lipskar said.

Members of the synagogue believed to be missing are Nancy Kress Levin, Jay Kleinman, Frankie Kleinman, Arie Leib, Yisroel Tzvi Yosef and Tzvi Doniel, according to Lipskar.

Rabbi Zalman Lipskar told CNN's Randi Kaye he believes at least 20 people associated with the Shul of Bal Harbour are missing. Their ages range from 20 to 60 years old.

He said he spoke with one woman who believes that she is missing seven or eight of her family members. He told CNN he also knows of a couple, both 26 years old, and a doctor who is a member of his synagogue, who are missing as well.

The rabbi said an older couple -- the parents of his childhood friend -- are also missing.

"It's just been heart-wrenching ... not knowing, and not being able to really deal with this magnitude of the tragedy that's unfolding," the rabbi said.

Rabbi Eliot Pearlson, who leads Temple Menorah, told CNN's Chris Cuomo, "It's hard to explain. This doesn't happen in America. It's doesn't happen in Miami Beach. It doesn't happen in our homes. And it's very difficult to comprehend how it's possible."

Pearlson said that he saw people come together in compassion following the collapse, and his temple will host an emergency prayer service on Friday.

Three generations of one family from his temple are among those unaccounted for, he said.

He added, "I have to tell you, when I walked past ground zero, there was row after row after row of firefighters who are literally waiting to rush into a building that could fall at any time."

Russel Manashirova and Nicole Doran

Valery Manashirova's brother, Dr. Russel Manashirova and his wife Nicole Doran moved to the seventh floor of the Champlain Towers South in Surfside to be closer to work. They just got married in May.

A family is holding out hope that their loved ones, a newlywed couple who recently moved from Brooklyn, are safe after a massive building collapse in Florida.

For the families, the waiting is excruciating.

"We just wanna know where he is and how he's doing," Valery Manashirova said.

Manashirova's brother, Dr. Russel Manashirova and his wife Nicole Doran moved to the seventh floor of the Champlain Towers South in Surfside to be closer to work. They just got married in May.

"It was a beautiful wedding and they were just starting their lives," Manashirova said.

Linda March

Linda March just moved to Surfside from New York City. She worked as a lawyer and rented a penthouse that can now be seen in the wreckage.

Among the missing was Linda March, who eagerly traded a cramped New York apartment for fresh air and ocean views after surviving a COVID-19 infection. She even bought a bright pink bicycle to cruise around Miami with, best friend Rochelle Laufer said.

March rented Penthouse 4, and was using the second bedroom of the furnished apartment as her office, Laufer told The Associated Press on Sunday.

Thursday's partial collapse of the condominium building left the penthouse's interior exposed, with bunk beds and an office chair still intact just inside the broken edge where the rest of the 12-story structure crumbled into a pile of debris.

Another friend, Dawn Falco, said she had been talking on the phone with March until just two hours before the disaster. Falco said she immediately began searching for word on her friend, who she said never leaves the house "without a smile."

"My heart is breaking as I see the office chair that she just purchased next to the bunkbeds," Falco said.

Florida was a new start for the 58-year-old attorney. In the past decade, she'd lost her sister and mother to cancer, her father died a few years later and she and her husband divorced. She had no children.

"She would say to me, 'I'm all alone. I don't have family,' and I would say, 'You're my sister, you don't have to be born sisters. And I said you always have me,'" Laufer recounted through tears.

Laufer said March loved the ocean views but hated the incessant noise from nearby construction and had decided to break her lease. "She was looking for another apartment when this happened," Laufer said sadly.

Still, Laufer had been planning to visit her friend this fall.

"I joked I'm going to take the top bunk when I visit," she said.

The Mora family

Juan Mora Jr., who works for Morton Salt in Chicago, had been staying with his parents, Juan and Ana Mora, when the building collapsed.

Immigrants from Cuba and devout Catholics, they took their family on missionary trips to the Caribbean to build churches and bridges, said Jeanne Ugarte, a close friend of Ana's. Later, they became like second parents to Juan Jr.'s friends in Chicago, where their son has managed East Coast distribution for Morton Salt's road salt business, his friend Matthew Kaade said.

When the Moras came to visit, they would take all of Juan Jr.'s friends out to dinner. In Florida, they introduced Kaade to Cuban coffee and food, he said. "They were the kind of people that even if someone says 'I'm not hungry,' they would just continue to order food to make sure you had a full belly," he said.

Kaade, who graduated with Mora from Loyala University Chicago in 2011, said he texted this month saying he was planning to return to Chicago in early August.

"I was super excited to get him to come back," said Kaade. He described Juan Jr., an avid Chicago Cubs fan, as genuine and someone his friends could always rely on "to be real and straight" with them.

No matter what happens, a group of friends will travel down to Florida - hopefully to celebrate with Juan Jr. and his family when they are found - but sure to celebrate him either way, because that's what he would have wanted, Kaade said.

"No matter the outcome, it will be a celebration of his life," he said. "I keep saying your story is not over ... I have hope that it will be Juan continuing his own story, but no matter what, I'll be there to be one of the many to help carry it on," he said.

Sophia López Moreira, husband Luis Pettengill and other relatives of Paraguay's first lady

Lady Vanessa Luna Villalba poses for a selfie on Jan. 1, 2021 in Eugenio Garay, Paraguay.
Courtesy of Ricard Luna via AP

The sister and brother-in-law of Paraguay's first lady, Silvan López Moreira, were staying with their three children at the building, and Paraguay's ministry of external relations has not been able to locate the family, the ministry told CNN en Español.

That family -- including Sophia López Moreira and her husband Luis Pettengill -- was in the US to receive COVID-19 vaccinations, Paraguay's foreign minister said.

Lady Vanessa Luna Villalba, a nanny from rural Paraguay employed by Moreira, is also among the missing.

The Paraguayan first lady, along with her parents and her brother-in-law's parents, arrived in Florida on Thursday after the collapse, the Paraguayan President's office said.

Six Paraguayans in all are unaccounted for, the ministry tweeted.

Ilan Naibryf and Deborah Berezdivin

Ronit Felszer and Carlos Naibryf said that their son, Ilan Naibryf, is missing.

Ilan Naibryf and his girlfriend, Deborah Berezdivin, were staying in her family's condo in the building, according to Naibryf's parents, Ronit Felszer and Carlos Naibryf.

On Monday afternoon, more than four days after the collapse, his family said they haven't given up hope of seeing their son alive again, but they realize chances are slim.

"We want to believe in a miracle, because we still don't have the physical presence, in part or in whole, of our son," Felszer told CNN's Alisyn Camerota.

"A miracle can come, yes, but we have to be very realistic," Carlos Naibryf said.

Ilan and his girlfriend were in town for a funeral, Naibryf's parents said.

Ilan's siblings and his parents are there supporting each other, they said.

"We have three amazing, amazing children. They have their significant others here supporting them, too," Felszer said. "I'm embarrassed almost to even admit it: We thought we had the perfect family."

Ilan "was a 21-year-old young adult. Bright. Everywhere he went, he made an impact," his father said, adding that his son is a physics major at University of Chicago.

Myriam and Arnie Notkin

Myriam Caspi Notkin, 81, and her husband, Arnold "Arnie" Notkin, 87, are among the missing.

Myriam Caspi Notkin, 81, and her husband, Arnold "Arnie" Notkin, 87, married about 20 years ago after losing their spouses, according to a family friend.

"They were a happy couple. We're hoping for a miracle," said Fortuna Smukler, a North Miami Beach commissioner who grew up with Myriam Notkin's three daughters. When they ran into each other as adults, Notkin always recalled her friendship with Smukler's mother, who died 40 years ago.

"Every time Myriam would see me, she always had to make a point of saying how wonderful my mother was," Smukler said. "She was very thoughtful."

MORE: Family reports receiving 16 calls from Notkins' landline in collapsed Florida condo

A family received 16 phone calls from Myriam and Arnie Notkin's landline after the grandparents were reported missing in the Surfside, Florida building collapse.

Smukler also knew Arnie Notkin dating back to his days as a physical education teacher and coach at Leroy D. Fienberg Elementary School in South Beach in the 1960s. He had an engaging personality and always had a story to tell.

"He had students who became famous, and he had to tell me about them, how they were good or mischievous," she said.

The Patel family

A local family is among the many still holding out hope that their loved ones will be found alive after the deadly residential building collapse in Surfside, Florida, last week.

Vishal Patel, his wife Bhavna Patel, and their 1-year-old daughter Aishani Patel are believed to be among the missing, their niece Sarina Patel told CNN, adding that Bhavna Patel is four-months pregnant.

Sarina Patel told CNN's Chris Cuomo on Friday she last spoke to her family on Father's Day.

"I had actually called them to tell them I had just booked a flight to come visit because they've been asking me to come see their home and to meet their daughter. I haven't met her due to the pandemic."

They were home at the time the collapse took place, Patel told Cuomo.

"We have tried calling them countless of times and there's just been no answers, text messages, nothing," she said. "They haven't contacted anybody."

Pablo Rodriguez's family

A woman who said creaking noises woke her up in the building the night before the collapse is missing, her son, Pablo Rodriguez, said.

Both his mother and grandmother were in the section that collapsed first, and the family hasn't heard from them, Rodriguez told CNN.

"You always hold out hope," he said. "Until we definitively know, we are trying to stay hopeful. But after seeing the video of the collapse it's increasingly difficult, because they were in that section that was pancaked in, in the first section that fell in, and then the other building fell on top of it, so it's not easy to watch."

Rodriguez said he and his mother didn't really think anything about the creaking noise.

"It was just a comment she made offhand, that's why she woke up, and then she wasn't able to go back to sleep afterward -- but now in hindsight, you always wonder," he said.

The family is still holding out hope for good news, Rodriguez said.

"We are praying for a miracle, but at the same time trying to be as realistic about it as possible," he said. "Until we definitely know, there is hope. It's just dwindling by the minute."

Harry Rosenberg

An image of Harry Rosenberg, missing since an oceanfront condo building collapsed in Surfside, Fla., hangs on a fence as part of a makeshift memorial.
AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File)

A New York City man bought a beachfront condo in Florida to start a new chapter of his life after his wife and parents died.

Now Harry Rosenberg is missing in the rubble of the building in Surfside, along with his daughter and her husband, who were visiting for the Sabbath.

The 52-year-old asset manager had recently moved into Champlain Towers South following the loss of his wife to cancer and his parents to COVID-19.

Described as a family man and observant Jew, Rosenberg had launched a young adult center for mental healing at a hospital in Israel in memory of his late wife, Anna Rosenberg.

Before his wife died last summer of a brain tumor, he spent three years taking care of her, a close friend said.

"He put his life on hold," said Maurice Wachsmann, a friend of Rosenberg's for more than 30 years.

Rosenberg's new home came with the promise of a fresh start. The cascading tragedies are reminders of the toll the collapse has taken on many families after what was already a grief-filled year.

"He told me, 'It is the next chapter of my life.' He went through hell. His parents passed away. His wife passed away," said Steve Eisenberg, who saw the 52-year-old asset manager last week at the synagogue.

Elaine Sabino

Elaine Sabino, 70, remains missing as rescuers search through the rubble of Champlain Towers South.

Elaine Sabino, a JetBlue flight attendant, was staying with a friend in the penthouse of the condo during the collapse.

The 70-year-old was described as a bubbly person with a big personality who loves glitter, rhinestones, and sequins

"Her greatest passion is seeing the world and meeting with old and new friends no matter where they are," Stephanie McManus, her daughter, said in a statement.

Her friend, Shelly Angle, said she remains hopeful as the search for survivors continues.

"Time's not exactly on our side, but we've heard of miracles and we're looking and we're expecting and wishing and hoping for a miracle," she said.

Judy Spiegel

Kevin Spiegel, who lived in Champlain Towers with his wife, Judy, said he was on a business trip in California when the building collapsed.

When he woke up in the middle of the night, he had an emergency notice on his phone, he told CNN's Anderson Cooper, and he notified the rest of his family.

"We're very hopeful that the community here will be able to find our loved ones," said Josh Spiegel, Judy's son, who lives in Orlando.

"My mom is an absolutely amazing person," Josh Spiegel said. "She's a fighter, and she fights for every single one of us, and we won't stop ... fighting until we find her," he said.

"We have a lot of hope that Judy is still alive, and still there," said Kevin Spiegel. "She's an amazing person."

Her daughter, Rachel Spiegel, last received a text from her mother around 9 p.m. Wednesday -- roughly four and a half hours before the collapse, she told CNN.

That text was about a princess dress that Judy ordered for one of Rachel's daughters. The family has been Judy's main focus, Rachel said.

Judy has a bond with her grandchildren, and "the other kids that we hang out with, they love Grandma Judy -- everybody calls her Grandma Judy," Rachel said.

Maria Theresa and Ricky Rovirosa

Maria Theresa and Ricky Rovirosa are a "perfect match" who support each other and others, according to longtime friend Monika Mucarsel Gressier.

The couple has two grown children they raised in their South Miami home, and used their Surfside condo as a part-time summer getaway. Gressier was living in California when she met Maria Theresa, whom she called Maituca, through work.

"We became instant friends," Gressier said in a text message. "She was one reason that gave me security and support for accepting a relocation to live in Miami. Maituca became my family support and always gave me and others the resources and guidance to navigate through the city of Miami."

Gressier described Ricky as charming and his wife as "stunningly beautiful" inside and out.

"When I think of them, I think of one of my favorite memories of the times I watched them dance salsa and how loving they were always to each other," Gressier wrote. "I am praying and hoping that they will survive this tragedy, as I know the strength, they both carry within, and I also know that their tremendous love for their girls and family will keep them fighting to survive this."

Velasquez family

Three members of the Velasquez family are also believed missing after the building collapse, according to family members.

David Velasquez posted on Facebook that his parents, Julio Cesar Velasquez, 67, and Angela Maria Velasquez, 60, live in the 12-story residential building.

His sister Theresa Velasquez, 36, had come to visit her parents and was staying with them at the time of the collapse.

David Velasquez's wife confirmed that they were missing in a text message to CNN. She said the family requests privacy at this time.

6 Colombian citizens

Six Colombian citizens are unaccounted for following the collapse, Colombian foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Camila Mugno told CNN on Friday.

It wasn't immediately clear whether they were inside the building at the moment of the collapse. Records indicated that the six had been staying there, the foreign ministry's office said.

The six Colombian citizens include a family of three from Medellin, and other travelers, Mugno told CNN.

Venezuelans also missing

"At the moment we are handling information from six Venezuelans not located in the collapse of the building in Surfside," Brian Fincheltub, Venezuela's consular affairs director, tweeted.

Uruguayan citizens missing

Three Uruguayan citizens are among the missing, according to the consulate in Miami.

The consulate is in contact with local authorities and with the families of the people missing, said Consul General Eduardo Bouzout.

"The relatives are very concerned, of course, because they have not been able to contact them since they have knowledge of this tragic collapse," said Bouzout in audio shared by the consulate with CNN.

The Associated Press and ABC News contributed to this report.

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