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Loved ones name, show photos of those missing after Surfside condo collapse

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WPLG

Angela Maria Velasquez, 60, and Julio Cesar Velasquez, 67, have been reported missing in the Surfside condo collapse.

The number of people missing after the highrise oceanfront condominium building collapsed into a pile of rubble early Thursday morning keeps growing. Friday morning, as Miami-Dade officials confirmed the death toll had increased to four and raised the number unaccounted for to 159.

Assistant Miami-Dade Fire Chief Raide Jadallah said that while listening devices placed on and in the wreckage had picked up no voices, they had detected possible banging noises, giving rescuers hope some are alive. Rescuers were tunneling into the wreckage from below, going through the building’s underground parking garage.

Rescuers who continue combing through a twisted, shifting pile of concrete and metal feared the death toll will grow much higher.

Many people remained at the reunification center set up near the collapse site early Friday morning, awaiting results of DNA swabs that could help identify victims.

Others relatives and friends of the missing told WPLG-TV they were too worried to get much sleep Thursday night.

Magally Ramsey said she hasn’t been able to reach her mother, Magally Delgado, a Champlain Towers South resident. She said she is hoping for a miracle, but if she learns her mother is dead, she will hope that she didn’t feel any pain.

“I believe in my mom’s grit, and force, and strength and resilience,” Ramsey said.

Rachel Spiegel said her parents are Champlain Towers South residents. Her 65-year-old mother, Judy Spiegel, was likely sleeping in apartment 603. She said she had last talked to her about 9:30 p.m. on Wednesday. Her father was on a business trip.

“My mom is just the best person in the world,” Rachel Spiegel said, adding, “I know the teams here are doing everything in their power. We are just praying that they find her.”

The missing at what was left of the 12-story Champlain Towers South included people from around the world: A beloved retired Miami-area teacher and his wife. Orthodox Jews from Russia. Israelis. The sister of Paraguay’s first lady.

Dr. Andres Galfrascoli, his husband, Fabian Nunez, and their 6-year-old daughter, Sofia, had spent Wednesday night there at an apartment belonging to a friend, Nicolas Fernandez.

Galfrascoli, a Buenos Aires plastic surgeon, and Nunez, a theater producer and accountant, had come to Florida to get away from a COVID-19 resurgence in Argentina and its strict lockdowns. They had worked hard to adopt Sofia, Fernandez said.

“Of all days, they chose the worst to stay there,” Fernandez said. “I hope it’s not the case, but if they die like this, that would be so unfair.”

They weren’t the only South Americans missing. Foreign ministries and consulates of four countries said 22 nationals were missing in the collapse: nine from Argentina, six from Paraguay, four from Venezuela and three from Uruguay.

The Paraguayans included Sophia Lopez Moreira -- the sister of first lady Silvana Abdo and sister-in-law of President Mario Abdo Benitez -- and her family.

Israeli media said the country’s consul general in Miami, Maor Elbaz, believes that 20 citizens of that country are missing.

Also missing was Arnie Notkin, a retired Miami-area elementary school physical education teacher, and his wife, Myriam. They lived on the third floor.

“Everyone’s been posting, ‘Oh my God, he was my coach,’” said Fortuna Smukler, a friend who turned to Facebook in hopes of finding someone who would report them safe.