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Family Receives Mysterious Calls From Collapsed Miami Condo Apartment

Newsweek logo Newsweek 6/28/2021 Danya Hajjaji
a group of people posing for the camera: Photos of missing residents are posted at a makeshift memorial at the site of a collapsed building in Surfside, Florida, north of Miami Beach, on June 26, 2021. © ANDREA SARCOS/AFP via Getty Images Photos of missing residents are posted at a makeshift memorial at the site of a collapsed building in Surfside, Florida, north of Miami Beach, on June 26, 2021.

A family say they have received more than a dozen calls from the landline of relatives who remain unaccounted for since their apartment's condominium building collapsed.

Rescuers continue to search through debris at the site of the Champlain Towers South in Surfside, Florida, where nine people have been confirmed dead and more than 150 people remain unaccounted for.

Among those missing are Arnold "Arnie" Notkin and Myriam Caspi Notkin, a couple who lived in apartment 302 of the 12-story building.

Their grandson Jake Samuelson told WPLG his mother has received 16 calls from the couple's landline. The missing couple's handset was located at their bedside.

The first call was made on Thursday at around 9:50pm, approximately 20 hours and 30 minutes after the building collapsed.

"We were all sitting there in the living room, my whole family, and Dianne, my mother," Samuelson recounted. "And we were just shocked and we kind of thought nothing of it, cause we answered, it was static."

The 15 other calls came on Friday, after the family returned from a reunification center.


Video: Dozens missing after Miami condo collapses (Reuters)

During his interview with WPLG, Samuelson played voicemails recorded following the calls. No human sound was emitted at the other end, only static noise.

"We're just trying to rationalize what's happening here," Samuelson said. "And we're just trying to get answers."

Arnie Notkin, 87, is a former P.E. teacher and coach at Leroy D. Fienberg Elementary School in South Beach in the 1960s and 1970s, according to the Miami Herald. On social media, Notkin has been fondly recalled by former students, who called him "legendary," a "beautiful person" and the "most loved" P.E. teacher.

Those who knew Myriam Notkin, an 81-year-old real estate agent and banker of Jewish and Cuban background, remembered her kindness. Fortuna Smukler—the North Miami Beach Commissioner and childhood friend of Myriam Notkin's three daughters, to whom Arnie Notkin is a stepfather—told the Herald she was "hoping for a miracle."

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"My mother passed away 40 years ago and every time [Myriam] saw me she just had something nice to say about my mother," Smukler said. "I love her."

She said of the couple: "You could tell that they loved each other."

a tall building in a city: Rescuers search for survivors in the partially collapsed 12-story Champlain Towers South condo in Surfside, Florida, on June 27, 2021. One family has told how they have received multiple calls from a landline of the apartment belonging to their relatives who lived in the condo but remain unaccounted for. GIORGIO VIERA/AFP/Getty Images © GIORGIO VIERA/AFP/Getty Images Rescuers search for survivors in the partially collapsed 12-story Champlain Towers South condo in Surfside, Florida, on June 27, 2021. One family has told how they have received multiple calls from a landline of the apartment belonging to their relatives who lived in the condo but remain unaccounted for. GIORGIO VIERA/AFP/Getty Images

The cause of the building collapse remains unclear, though a 2018 report identified a number of issues in the building, including "abundant cracking and spalling of varying degrees [...] in the concrete columns, beams, and walls" in its parking garage, as well as "failed waterproofing" causing "major structural damage to the concrete structural slab" that supported its pool deck.

"The waterproofing below the Pool Deck & Entrance Drive as well as all of the planter waterproofing is beyond it [sic] useful life and therefore must all be completely removed and replaced," the report advised.

On Friday, Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said task forces from Israel and Mexico have joined rotating search-and-rescue groups, as the building and its surrounding area are home to South American, Central American, Spanish-speaking and Jewish residents.

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