Grandson of couple missing in Miami condo collapse ‘gets calls from their phone’

Jake Samuelson’s grandparents Arnie and Myriam are still missing following Thursday’s building collapse in Miami, Florida (Picture: Facebook/AP)

The grandson of a couple who are still missing in Thursday’s building collapse in Miami claims he’s received multiple calls from their landline – but says there is nothing but static each time he picks up.

Jake Samuelson has said his family has so far received 16 calls from the phone inside his grandparents destroyed apartment at Champlain Towers South, a 12-story beachfront condo building in the Miami suburb of Surfside, Florida.

The high-rise came crashing to the ground in the early hours of Thursday morning leaving nine people so far confirmed as dead and a further 156 people still missing.

Among the missing are Jake’s grandparents Arnie Notkin, 87, and his wife Myriam, 81. Jake said his family received the first mysterious call at 9.50pm on Thursday, just a matter of hours after the building was reduced to a pile of rubble.

Search and rescue teams search for survivors through the rubble at the Champlain Towers South in Surfside, on Sunday June 27 (Picture: AP)
People visit the makeshift memorial for the victims of the building collapse, near the site of the accident in Surfside, Florida, north of Miami Beach (Picture: Getty/AFP)

By the time Jake and his family had made their way to the reunification center on Friday morning to see if his beloved grandparents had been found, they had received another 15 calls, all static, he told WPLG.  

‘We were just shocked, and we kind of thought nothing of it because we answered, and it was static’, Jake said. 

He added: ‘We are trying to rationalize what is happening here, we are trying to get answers.’  

By Friday afternoon the calls had stopped and calls back to the number were met with a busy signal, Jake explained to the TV station.

Jake said his family have even reached out to the police to see what the calls could mean but have so far not been able to solve the mystery.

Speaking about his grandparents, Jake told the Miami Herald that Myriam is a former banker and real estate agent while Arnie is a retired and beloved physical education teacher and pee wee football coach.    

Workers search in the rubble at the Champlain Towers South Condo, Saturday, June 26, 2021, in Surfside, Fla. One hundred fifty-nine people were still unaccounted for two days after Thursday's collapse, which killed at least four. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

156 people are still unaccounted for following the building collapse (Picture: AP)
Jake Samuelson pictured with his grandparents Arnie and Myriam Notkin, aged 87 and 81 (Picture: Facebook/AP)

The Samuelson’s distress comes as the death toll has continued to rise fours days on from the tragedy.  

Miami-Dade mayor, Daniella Levine Cava, told a news conference on Sunday afternoon that more bodies had been pulled from the wreckage, while one person died in hospital.

She said: ‘As of today, one victim passed away in the hospital, and we’ve recovered eight more victims on-site, so I am confirming today that the death toll is at nine. 

‘My deepest condolences to the friends, the families, the communities of those who lost their lives.’

Officials have not yet released the names of five of the victims to the public.

‘We are making every effort to identify those others who have been recovered, and additionally, contacting their family members as soon as we are able’, Cava said. 

The victims who have been identified so far are Antonio Lozano, 83, his wife Gladys Lozano, 79; Manny Lafont, 54; and Stacie Fang, 54.

Rescue workers search the rubble of the Champlain Towers South condominium, Saturday, June 26, 2021, in the Surfside area of Miami. The building partially collapsed on Thursday. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

The rescue operation has entered its fifth day (Picture: AP)

The huge rescue operation is still ongoing and teams of Israeli search-and-rescue specialists are now involved in the hunt for survivors.

They join teams in protective gear, backed by two huge cranes and aided by sniffer dogs, who have been working nonstop in torrid heat and high humidity since the early-morning collapse.

For more stories like this, check our news page.

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at webnews@metro.co.uk.

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