SoCal relatives of missing family in FL building collapse remain hopeful: 'Miracles do happen'

Among the missing is Vishal Patel, his wife Bhavna who is four-months pregnant and their 1-year-old daughter.
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.

Days after Thursday's collapse, more than 150 people remain unaccounted for in Surfside, north of Miami Beach, with five confirmed dead and authorities and loved ones fearing the toll will go much higher.

Among the missing is Vishal Patel, his wife Bhavna who is four-months pregnant and their 1-year-old daughter.

"We're starting to prepare for the negative possibility, especially as the hours pass, but at the end of the day our family is very hopeful,' said relative Sarina Patel. "I just keep praying they have found a pocket somewhere where they were able to seek shelter and just waiting to be found."

Florida building collapse: What we know about those missing, killed
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Loved ones share stories of some of the people who remain missing at the site of the seaside Florida condo.

As scores of rescuers continue to use heavy machinery and power tools to clear the rubble from the top and tunnel in from below at the condo complex along the Florida coast, Sarina remains in limbo, waiting for word on her uncle, aunt and niece.

"We tried calling their cell phone, I tried texting them things like that, but as time passed it became scarier," she said. "You just kind of start to understand like they're somewhere in that rubble."

Search crew say they are not giving up, using canines and sonar to sweep the massive pile of concrete for any signs of life. Rescuers have battled heavy smoke and fires deep inside the debris.

"We're so blessed that they were able to extinguish the fire today. God forbid they didn't and it spread to where all those cars were in that parking lot -- it would have exploded," Sarina said.

The Patels moved into the complex two years ago. Sarina says they knew nothing about the growing questions over the building's structural integrity.

2018 report pointed out 'major structural damage' at Miami condo before collapse
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In a structural field service report from 2018, engineers pointed out the evidence of flooding, cracking and corrosion in the building.

She says growing up, her uncle lived with her family in Chino Hills.

She had just spoken to him last Sunday to wish him a happy Father's Day and tell him she had booked a ticket to come see his new home, and to finally meet her niece.

Her family knows the recovery process is delicate and dangerous, but they say they wish there was a faster way to get the answers they are so desperate to find.

"If they said they wanted volunteers, I would be on a plane and I would go start helping. Anything to make it go faster," Sarina said. "Miracles do happen. Just praying we will be able to be part of that."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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