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Relatives of Paraguay’s First Lady among dozens of people missing after Florida building collapse

·2-min read
People look at a portion of the 12-story Champlain Towers South condo building that partially collapsed on Thursday  (Getty Images)
People look at a portion of the 12-story Champlain Towers South condo building that partially collapsed on Thursday (Getty Images)

Five relatives of Paraguay’s First Lady, including her sister, are among the dozens of people still missing in Florida, after a beachfront condo outside Miami partially collapsed on Thursday, killing at least one person.

Paraguay’s foreign minister Euclides Acevedo told local media that President Mario Abdo and his wife Silvana are awaiting more information on six missing people, including a staff member. They were believed to be in the 12-storey condo, a part of which came down overnight.

In an interview with a local radio channel, Mr Acevedo identified the members as Sophia López Moreira, her husband Luis Pettengill, her three children and the family’s assistant, identified as Lady Luna.

The minister also said Paraguayan consulate officials were visiting hospitals in the Miami area to try to locate the first lady’s relatives and the staffer.

Paraguay authorities have said that all activities of President Abdo have been cancelled for Thursday and Friday, as he stays with his wife, who awaits word on the fate of her sister and her family.

Gilmer Moreira, press director of Paraguay’s presidential palace, told the Associated Press the First Lady is planning to travel to Miami, Florida, tonight on a private plane.

In Paraguay’s capital Asuncion, Ms Luna’s cousin Lourdes Luna told a local media that she’s a nurse and has been working with the Pettengil-López Moreira family for two years.

“Before leaving home she asked me for my blessing,” Juana Villalba, her mother told a local television channel. “As a mother, I have no consolation because they do not give me information about my daughter.”

The building collapse outside Miami killed at least one person and several others were injured. However, the death toll could increase, as at least 99 residents remained unaccounted for. Authorities have so far located 102 people, including 35 who were pulled from the rubble. The rescue operations continue as search teams try to find more people beneath the debris.

However, it is still unclear how many people were present in 12-storey building when the incident occurred. What caused a part of the 40-year-old condo to collapse is also unclear.

Among the dozens of people missing in the collapse, a total of 22 are believed to be the residents of South American nations — nine from Argentina, six from Paraguay, four from Venezuela and three from Uruguay, according to officials in these countries.

Florida senator Marco Rubio in a Spanish tweet confirmed that almost a third of the missing are foreigners. “We are working with the consulates of several countries in LATAM to help them obtain visas for the members of the families of the victims who need to travel to the United States,” he wrote.

Additional reporting by Associated Press

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