This is a rush transcript of “Your World with Neil Cavuto” on June 24, 2021. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: They were on the side that collapsed?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, 10th floor, looking at the beach.
QUESTION: And you haven’t heard anything?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.
QUESTION: Oh, no.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And you haven’t seen them in the hospital or anything?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. They send me here.
QUESTION: And they’re all missing?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They’re all missing. Now only God is the one who saved them. So you never lose hope. And I’m not losing my hope.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NEIL CAVUTO, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: A loved one who continues waiting.
And we are still waiting for an update on that Miami, Florida, condo collapse here. We have news now that 99 individuals are still unaccounted for. There could be more, because of the complexity of this particular condominium and combination apartment, because so many were short-term rentals.
So we’re not even sure about who was there and whether they’re still there elsewhere or never got there.
Welcome, everybody. I’m Neil Cavuto, and this is “Your World,” trying to get to the bottom of a freakish disaster that now has dozens waiting to hear about loved ones they cannot reach.
In about a half-an-hour again, we will get an update from local authorities.
To Steve Harrigan right now on what he is hearing and seeing on the ground in Surfside, Florida — Steve.
STEVE HARRIGAN, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Neil, a lot of very anxious people around trying to find out news of their loved ones.
The number of people who are missing and unaccounted for has risen throughout the day, up to about 99 right now. That’s from Miami-Dade Police Department. That number could go even higher. We’re looking at basically three stories high of concrete rubble, more than 50 apartment units simply destroyed.
There are stories of people saying, I opened my door and my neighbor’s apartment was gone. People really struggling throughout the night to get out of there.
And the governor of Florida says it is still very much a search-and-rescue operation. Here’s Governor DeSantis.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): In search-and-rescue mode. They are trying to identify survivors.
I know they have made contact with some and they are — they’re doing everything they can to save lives. And that is ongoing. And they’re not going to rest.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIGAN: Thirty-six people were rescued overnight. Two were pulled from the rubble. These first responders came from all around Southern Florida, risking their own lives in a building that was partially collapsed.
President Biden has contacted the mayor of Miami-Dade, promising full federal support. Here’s the president.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I’m waiting for the governor to ask for — to declare an emergency, if and especially as we learn more about what the rest of that — might happen the rest of the building.
So we are on top of it. We are ready to move, from the federal resources, immediately.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARRIGAN: We have gotten reports that the sniffer dogs have found indications of life under the surface, so the digging and the hope here will continue — Neil, back to you.
CAVUTO: Steve Harrigan, thank you.
To Charles Burkett right now, the mayor of Surfside, Florida, who joins us on the phone.
Mayor, thank you for taking the time.
CHARLES BURKETT, MAYOR OF SURFSIDE, FLORIDA: Sure.
CAVUTO: Any updates, Mayor? Any news to share?
BURKETT: I think Steve Harrigan did a great job. I think that was a very comprehensive report.
I think we have got our dogs on top of that pile right now. And we’re doing everything we can to find and save the people we can save.
CAVUTO: Have we gotten any closer, Mayor, to knowing what — what might cause this?
BURKETT: Well, no. I think we’re about as far away from that as we can be.
I think that, right now, our primary objective is to save lives. And our secondary objective is to make sure that those who have been displaced have somewhere to go. And we have done both of those things now.
So, we have had the people in this particular building relocated into local hotels. We had a hotel next door that we had to close because of safety reasons. And we have located those people also to other hotels.
So, right now, it’s a 100 percent focus on search-and-rescue.
CAVUTO: I understand, Mayor, it’s very difficult also to keep tabs on who’s missing. I mean, now these — also, in this large condo complex, there were short-term rentals in there as well.
Is that 99 figure of those unaccounted for, is that holding? Are you getting word of others or family members who are asking?
BURKETT: I — certainly, those numbers are indicators, but I wouldn’t rely completely on those numbers.
I think what we’re doing is, we’re — the only way we’re going to know who’s missing is by triangulating the information with the people that are calling and looking for their relatives or who know somebody is missing.
And what we have got is, we have got a centralized number that you have probably got on your screen.
BURKETT: And we’re asking the families of relatives who may have been in that property to give us a call, so we can compile a list.
CAVUTO: What about the area around that too, Mayor?
I notice, obviously, the building affected, of course, it’s uninhabitable, but is there any structural risk to neighboring buildings?
BURKETT: Well, listen, I think that there are some — some thoughts and ideas and theories about what happened here.
But, like I said, I think it’s just so early. And we’re only focused right now — there will be a time, once we have saved as many people as we can save, to figure out why this happened. Buildings like this do not just fall down in the United States of America. That is not something that happens.
And this is the — this is — on a scale of one to 100, 100 being the most bizarre, this is absolutely pinning the scale.
CAVUTO: So I guess — I’m sorry I wasn’t clear, Mayor. You have certainly a lot on your mind. I can — we can all understand.
But any of the neighboring buildings, have they been evacuated, just in case?
CAVUTO: Or can you update us on that surrounding area?
BURKETT: Well, yes, one on either side have been evacuated.
BURKETT: And that — primarily, that’s because we’re not sure that the rest of the building is going to continue to stand.
We don’t know why the rest — the back of the building fell down. And we don’t have 100 percent assurance that the front of the building won’t fall down at any point. So we’re taking steps to make sure everybody’s set back, that there are no people in the surrounding buildings, and that everybody’s safe.
CAVUTO: All right, we wish you well, and all the folks in the area well.
Mayor, thank you for taking the time. To say you’re busy today is an understatement, Charles Burkett, the Surfside, Florida, mayor.
When local authorities do address the press, I believe in about another 20 minutes or so, we will take you there.
In the meantime, a number of other big developments today, including a potential deal on infrastructure. Now, the devil is in the details. And we don’t know all the details, but we do know that Senator Mark Warner, Virginia Democrat, was among the bipartisan group of senators, five Republicans, five Democrats, who signed on to the deal.
And what made it even more unusual and impactful was that the president was with them when they left his house, the White House — after this.
CAVUTO: All right, no sooner had the president said we have a deal, an infrastructure deal, then take a look at what was going on, on the corner of Wall and Broad.
Investors said, well, we have some new records to report. When the day was over, the Nasdaq the S&P 500 finished the highest they have ever been, the Dow not that far away from record territory itself, and all based on the idea that this infrastructure measure is going to stimulate the economy.
Others say that could be a short-lived event, depending on the details and how all of this is paid for.
We will be talking about all of that with Senator Mark Warner in just a second.
First to Peter Doocy at the White House on the plan as it stands — Peter.
PETER DOOCY, FOX NEWS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Neil, good afternoon.
The latest from the White House’s they think this deal is critical for the United States staying competitive.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: We’re in a race with China and the rest of the world for the 21st century. They’re not waiting.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOOCY: The president also says nobody is getting what they wanted here. So what does that mean?
Well, the $1.2 trillion — with a T — deal only focuses on physical infrastructure, repairing roads and bridges, things like that. The other stuff Biden wants, like childcare, are going to come later. The way to pay for it is going to come later too, but some ideas floated include narrowing the IRS tax gap and selling some oil in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
But both sides claim no new taxes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ROB PORTMAN (R-OH): Come together on a core infrastructure package — this is not non-infrastructure items — without new taxes, and with the commitment from Republicans and Democrats alike that we’re going to get this across the finish line.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DOOCY: The president just touched down in Raleigh, North Carolina. He is going to try to generate excitement in COVID-19 vaccines tomorrow here.
He’s going to host the Afghan president, while the vice president is down making her first trip to the Southern border — Neil.
CAVUTO: All right, Peter, thank you.
Now to Chad Pergram up on Capitol Hill, how this moves on.
It’s a big leap to say something that looks like a deal ultimately is a deal, huh, Chad?
CHAD PERGRAM, FOX NEWS CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That’s right.
Well, the president made a point of appearing with the bipartisan senators in the White House driveway. That’s rare. That’s what we call a sight bite, not a sound bite. A sight bite is more powerful. Mr. Biden wanted to show the picture that he endorsed this plan with lawmakers from both sides.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. KYRSTEN SINEMA (D-AZ): No one got everything they wanted in this package. We all gave some to get some.
SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R-ME): We have agreed on the price tag, the scope, and how to pay for it. It was not easy to get agreement on all three.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PERGRAM: The Democrats may have laid a trap for the GOP. Liberals will also prep their own $6 trillion reconciliation plan stocked with Democratic goodies.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): Let me make it clear that there will not be a so-called bipartisan bill without a major reconciliation package.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PERGRAM: So, here’s the question.
Why would the GOP go along with a narrow bill if Democrats will still write their own massive bill? And if the GOP walks away, Democrats can blame the other side and forge ahead with the big bill.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): There ain’t going to be an infrastructure bill unless we have the reconciliation bill passed by the United States Senate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PERGRAM: Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez from New York blasted the bipartisan deal. She tweeted that, to get GOP support, you don’t help the working class.
Now, as for timing, these two bills will consume most of July in the Senate. That means August for the House. There’s a reason I took my vacation last week.
And watch for this. The secretary of the Treasury, Janet Yellen, says they have to lift the debt ceiling by August, and that could be attached to this plan — Neil.
CAVUTO: All right, so not a done deal.
Senator Mark Warner in the middle of all of this.
He was part of this bipartisan group of 10 senators pushing this, the Senate Intelligence Committee chairman, Senate Budget Committee, Senate Finance Committee. He’s on all these committees, Mark Warner, beautiful state of Virginia.
Senator, you have heard what some on the extreme left, I guess you would call it, in your party, like Bernie Sanders, not too happy with this. What do you — what do you say?
SEN. MARK WARNER (D-VA): Well, Neil, I think it’s an indication that this is a bipartisan deal that’s got legs.
We’re getting hit from the left. I’m sure there’ll be some folks, Republicans in the Senate, who will also hit it. I think that means we’re probably in a pretty good spot.
I’m glad President Biden has endorsed this. And the idea, $579 billion of new infrastructure — and we’re not just talking roads and bridges. We’re talking water and sewer. We’re talking broadband. We’re talking things like a smarter and more efficient power grid.
And I think one of the reasons why you’re seeing — at the top of this segment, you said the market is going up so much, is, you make our system more efficient, you make our airports not seem like they’re Third World anymore, you allow people to get to work quicker, you allow people to have broadband at home, that’s going to be an economic burst — boost.
I mean, we have had presidents for years talk about infrastructure. As a matter of fact, Donald Trump, I think every other week called it infrastructure week. Nothing happened.
We’re finally putting our money where our mouth is. And you — one of the commentators say, why would the Republicans do it? Because it’s popular. It is the right thing for economic growth. And we are paying for it without taxes or user fees.
Now, I, frankly, would have included slight increase in taxes, slight increase in user fees.
CAVUTO: So, how is — that’s a good point, Senator. Then how is it being — how is it being paid for?
CAVUTO: I understand this idea to beef up IRS tax collection and all that.
You can raise some billions off of that. That’s been, I guess, teased before.
But there are no user fees in this, no gas taxes, no electric vehicle mileage taxes. So how is this being paid for?
WARNER: Well, there is around $100 billion that will — if you beef up IRS enforcement, that can be — net $100 billion.
They’re — and your viewing audience will like this. There’s about $80 billion that is being clawed back from pre-COVID relief — COVID relief bills that were unspent. There’s some usage of federal activity bonds and other tools.
There are, frankly, some cats and dogs — of smaller programs that we’re clawing money for, again, something your viewers will like, $80 billion, we think, that we can recruit from unemployment fraud. We know, with the plus- up on unemployment dollars, there was a lot of fraud out there. We’re going to put some Justice Department and Department of Labor money behind trying to reclaim that.
You know that my business was in the cell phones and wireless industry.
WARNER: There’s another $65 billion from spectrum licenses.
So, there is…
CAVUTO: No, you have got a lot use of popular ingredients, to your point, Senator, no doubt.
I guess I’m back to the Bernie Sanders thing and this idea that surprised some Republicans that there’s going to be an adjunct big spending measure, because this one wasn’t. And a lot of Republicans heard that and said, what the heck?
Do you fear that that kind of sentiment, or if Republicans see that happening, they bolt from this deal, and we don’t have a deal?
WARNER: Well, Neil, let me be — again, be straight with you and your audience.
I think there are parts of the tax code that need to be changed. I don’t think America ought to be 35th out of 35 in terms of corporate revenues coming into our Treasury. I think there are ways that we can end up having a tax structure, particularly around international taxes, where large corporations pay their fair share, if you look at some of the largest corporations.
CAVUTO: But that’s not here and that’s not part of this, right, Senator, just to be clear.
WARNER: No, that’s not part of this. No, no. Yes, to be absolutely clear.
CAVUTO: That is not part of this.
So, when would something like that happen? I mean, the reason why I ask, Senator, is because it seems that one of the reasons for the markets advancing was this notion that tax hikes, which they suspect are still coming, are now pushed further back, if at all, this year.
CAVUTO: Do you think that it’s possible that those tax hikes on corporations, on rich individuals are delayed, they might not happen this year?
WARNER: No, I think — listen, I’m on the Budget Committee.
I’m probably the most conservative Democrat on the Budget Committee. I have gone from one side on the infrastructure package, urged my Republican friends to spend a little more on these critical items. Now I’m going to be engaged in a process where some of my more — most liberal colleagues are going to want to spend more than I think is healthy.
And that second package, which, in Washington-speak, is called reconciliation, that’s basically code for an approach that says, OK, you have to get all 50 Democrats. This is exactly the methodology my Republican friends used back in 2017 when they did the close-to-$2-trillion tax cut.
So this is a tool that both parties have used in the past. I’m open to some of that being used in terms of revenues that are fair. I say this as a former business guy. And if there are some of the things, like additional clean energy or some of the other things the president wants, he’s not going to get again, everything he’s looking for, but I’m open to that path.
All right, Senator Mark Warner, great seeing you again. Thank you.
WARNER: Thanks so much, Neil.
CAVUTO: All right.
In the meantime here, we’re minutes away from an update on that Florida condo collapse here, 99 reported missing. They might be able to update that figure.
Some promising news we were hearing from our Steve Harrigan is that dogs on site are detecting the presence of people who are alive.
We will have more after this.
CAVUTO: We’re getting word from USA Today that that high-rise that collapsed in Florida had been cited as being unstable a year ago, quoting a Florida International researcher, who said that it was sinking at an alarming rate.
That’s all we know. An update next.
CAVUTO: All right, John McAfee, an iconic figure in the world of technology, right up there with Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, who were legendary, revolutionary figures in their respective areas, of course, he in McAfee software that he founded to deal with hacking and other related issues, of which he was decades ahead.
But he killed himself, actually hanged himself in a Spanish prison, just as there was an extradition for him to come back to the United States over tax evasion charges. It’s a mess. A lot of people haven’t dotted the I’s and cross the T’s.
What we do know is a lot more mystery there and a lot of questions now.
Benjamin Hall with more on that from London — Benjamin.
BENJAMIN HALL, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Hi, Neil.
Yes, John McAfee was — of course, he was eccentric. He was colorful. He was always rather controversial as well, but he did blaze a trail in the ’80s in the tech sector, and he went on to set up that eponymous antivirus software that millions of people today still use. But he was found dead in his Spanish jail cell yesterday just hours after a court there had sentenced and approved his extradition to the U.S. on tax evasion charges and cryptocurrency fraud.
The authorities say he killed himself by hanging. McAfee was arrested last October when trying to flee from Spain to Turkey after years on the run from authorities. Speaking at an extradition hearing earlier this month, he said that the charges against him were politically motivated.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN MCAFEE, FOUNDER, MCAFEE ASSOCIATES: If I am extradited, it’s certain that I will spend the rest of my life in prison.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HALL: McAfee had retired to Belize in around 2010, where he reportedly set up a harem, then became a vocal critic of the government.
In 2012, he was named a person of interest in the death of his neighbor and fled to Guatemala. In 2016, he ran for U.S. president as a Libertarian, coming third in the party’s primary. His personal wealth had been estimated at around $100 million in 2007. But he claimed to have lost most of it in the financial crash.
His lawyer has said that he saw no indication before McAfee’s death that he would take his own life. Indeed, last year, McAfee tweeted from jail, in
part: “Know that, if I hang myself, a la Epstein, it will be no fault of mine.”
A Spanish judge has now ordered an autopsy on his body. But the results from that won’t be expected for at least a few weeks, in the meantime, still some mystery about — to his whereabouts over the last few years.
Certainly, he has been hunted by U.S. authorities for some time — Neil.
CAVUTO: Wow. This reads like a spy novel.
Benjamin, thank you very much.
Now, over the years, I had a number of times to talk to John McAfee. But what was remarkable about him, if you think about it, back in 1987 — 1987, long before most folks even had personal computers — he was warning about the danger of being snooped on. It was a constant concern of his over the decades that I talked to him, including here at FOX on a number of occasions.
His biggest, biggest concern was that with this technology comes the risk that it could turn on you. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCAFEE: They’re not going to stop spying on us. And it’s not just the NSA.
I mean, we’re focused on the NSA. But, good lord, do you think the CIA and the FBI and others are not doing exactly the same thing? Of course they are. The technology is there. They’re going to use it.
CAVUTO: A lot of people — and you have heard this analogy — have called you sort of the Tony Stark character, the Iron Man character, on which that elaborate Downey business titan, playboy, if you will, was built.
Is that true?
MCAFEE: Well, I mean, they certainly called me that. They have called me the Tony Stark of the cyberworld. Whether it’s true or not, I am just who I am.
I live my life and I say what I want to say and do what I want to do. It is no secret that, as a very young man, I was making money from selling drugs in Mexico. Thank God I’m not doing that anymore. I made a fortune and lost a fortune more times than I can count.
Money is very easy to make, sir. It’s the simplest thing in the world to make. There’s lots of money floating around. Keeping it is always the problem.
When I had the company, I owned 87 percent of the world market for antivirus software, and everyone loved the software. It’s changed.
CAVUTO: All right.
In your heyday, the talk was you were worth well north of $100 million, maybe $200 million. Was that true? And what are you worth now?
MCAFEE: Well, first of all, what are you worth now, sir?
CAVUTO: I think $28.48. I think that’s about right.
MCAFEE: I think I’m about the same.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAVUTO: He was coy, he was mysterious, but he was always good TV, as they say, brilliant, ahead of the curve when it came to hacking and spying and issues that we’re only now coming to grips with.
He was doing this decades ago. He was ahead as well on cryptocurrencies and their appeal. In fact, that might be behind these investigations into taxes evaded. We just don’t know. It’s still way too early.
Charlie Gasparino taking a look at all of this.
Charlie, a lot of this just doesn’t add up. The suicide, everything else doesn’t add up. There’s going to be a lot of digging into all of this, right?
CHARLIE GASPARINO, FOX NEWS SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Well, some of it might add up, if you apply a little logic.
Listen, the guy was hurting for cash. He said it in 2013. And he was involved in sort of these sort of obscure businesses involved in cryptocurrency now. And usually people that are hurting for cash go out on the risk spectrum and risk doing risky things. And, sometimes, those risky things involved illegal things.
Now, I’m not judge, jury and executioner here of Mr. McAfee. I can tell you that, if you read his tweets, which I have, he claims innocence. But there
— he — there is a — how can I put it? There is a pattern here and there is — he fits the description of — and that’s why I think the feds are so interested in what he was doing.
They really do think that he was…
CAVUTO: But not only the feds here, Charlie, to your point, but all over the world.
He gathered a lot of enemies, not only those in various governments, but he would fleet around, and what he was up to his business dealings, it was a Byzantine empire, to put it mildly, at its height, and it stayed Byzantine and confusing right to his death.
And, by the way, the $100 million, I mean, listen, I — far be it for me to say $100 million doesn’t sound like a lot, given the 100 cents in my pocket. But as someone who covers wealth, you would think a guy that created what he created was cashing out at billions, I mean, literally billions.
The tech guys cash out at billions, particularly the ones that have eponymous products named after them.
GASPARINO: It — he seems like he — there’s something — I mean, listen, obviously, this is going to be a great story to cover to unravel all this.
But something went haywire along the lines.
If you watched the Netflix special, he had some — he obviously had some demons. He was — and when you have demons, on top of the fact that you need money, well, you go out on the risk spectrum, and you take those risks.
And, sometimes, those risks, Neil, involved illegality. And, clearly, the feds think he’s done something. And he’s admitted on his Facebook page the feds think that it’s — that this tax evasion stuff is kind of the tip of the iceberg. They’re looking at a lot of other stuff involving crypto, and it’s one of the reasons why they want to crack down on crypto, because you can hide so much illegal activity in crypto, in Bitcoin and these various different cryptocurrencies.
GASPARINO: And which — and if you get into that business, it really is a murky world.
So I think the John McAfee saga will be another reason why you see a massive crackdown on crypto. But unraveling his life, to me, is going to be the best story of the century, because…
GASPARINO: … one of the best business stories, because yet we have to figure out why he was only worth $100 million, when Jeff Bezos is worth trillions, or up there, very — and we have to figure out…
Well, you can argue he sold that company too soon. I remember that in ’87.
But we just don’t know.
GASPARINO: And how he lost it, yes.
CAVUTO: But thank you, my friend.
We will be watching. Yes, how we lost, how we lost it.
You might have caught there in that exchange I had several times over these many years, John McAfee, he was fascinated with money gained and money lost, kind of the echo point that Charlie Gasparino was saying.
And we see that alive and well, not just in tech gazillionaires or multimillionaires, but in pop stars too, like Britney Spears — after this.
CAVUTO: All right, Britney Spears has had enough for a second day running now, making her case that her father should stop running her life and her finances and let her do her own thing.
Jonathan Hunt following all of this very closely out of Los Angeles.
Jonathan, where does this thing stand right now?
JONATHAN HUNT, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Neil, it’s now up to Britney Spears to file a formal petition with the court if she wants to end the conservatorship.
Her statement yesterday was just that, a statement, but, boy ,was it a passionate and angry one. And she could hardly have been clearer that she does want the conservatorship, and particularly her father, to stop controlling her life.
With her vocal supporters outside the courthouse, Britney Spears address the judge via phone, saying her father and others forced her to tour against her will, forced her into rehearsals for her Vegas show against her will, and, when she argued with them, they had her doctor change her medication to lithium, which she said made her feel drunk.
She said — quote — “Not only did my family not do a ‘bleep’ thing. My dad was all for it. Anything that happened to me had to be approved by my dad.”
She said her father, Jamie Spears, forced her to go to a rehab facility, breaking the news in a phone call. And Spears said — quote — “I cried on the phone for an hour. And he loved every minute of it. The control he had over someone as powerful as me, he loved the control to hurt his own daughter 100,000 percent.”
And she went on: “I have been in denial. I have been in shock. I am traumatized. You know, fake it until you make it. But now I’m telling you the truth, OK? I’m not happy. I can’t sleep. I’m so angry. It’s insane. And I’m depressed. I cry every day,” adding: “I just want my life back. It’s been 13 years. And it’s enough.”
She also said, Neil, her conservators will not allow her to get married again or get pregnant, saying they’re forcing her to continue with an implanted contraceptive device, an IUD she wants removed, so that she can potentially have another baby.
We’re now waiting to see if Britney Spears follows through and files that formal petition, Neil, to, as she put it, get her life back — Neil.
CAVUTO: All right, thank you very, very much, Jonathan Hunt on that.
CAVUTO: I do want to take you to Miami right now, where they’re updating us on the latest on that condo collapse.
As we wait for them to get settled, I should bring you up to date on the latest news that we have been getting, including this USA Today report quoting some researchers out of Florida University that had been commenting on that condo building in question and issues that it had been sinking.
We don’t know how much and over what time period this was happening, but that USA Today is saying that this was something that was a worry for engineers who had looked at the building. We don’t know much more than that, and whether that might have had anything to do with this.
There was also construction going on in the day in the neighborhood of that kind of condominium. But let’s go to local authorities there. They’re also going to update us on those missing.
By last count, 99 were missing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Daniella Levine Cava, the mayor Miami-Dade County.
DANIELLA LEVINE CAVA (D), MAYOR OF MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, FLORIDA: Thank you.
So, it’s been over 12 hours. We’re at about 15 hours since this tragic, tragic, devastating emergency. And our people are working around the clock, our fire rescue team leaving no stone unturned. And we’re working with the families on reunification as well as those that were dislocated in the neighboring buildings.
And I want to give you a top number, very encouraging; 102 people have been accounted for. That’s double what we were able to report last time. So, 102 people from the towers, their locations are known and they are safe.
We still have at least 99 who are unaccounted for. And right now at our family reunification center, up at the Surfside Community Center, the families are being briefed so that they know which are the ones that are accounted for.
So, they have been seeking that information. And for those family members of 102, we’ve been able to provide some good news.
For anybody who has information or seeking information, we urge you to use our hot line, 305-614-1819, 305-614-1819.
We also have assembled a tremendous support system. We have food. We have hotel rooms, we have social services, medicine assistance, chaplains and the Coral Gables Community Foundation and the Key Biscayne Foundation have joined forces to create a special emergency fund which is available at supportsurfside.org.
So, we are here.
And then to say, most importantly, I believe, is that I have just signed an emergency order. The governor has on his desk his emergency order. And with that, we will get the support from the federal agency FEMA. The president has pledged that support. And so, shortly, these orders will go forward and we will be able to bring in addition FEMA federal assistance to this site and to the families who are suffering.
So, we are all praying. We are all crying. We are all here with the suffering families. And we urge everyone to join us in prayers and in hopes that we can still continue.
We are continuing for our search and rescue effort.
CAVUTO: Still monitoring this.
Just want to update you, for those who don’t speak Spanish, 102 people are now accounted for there. That’s the good news. The bad news, unfortunately, is the 99 who are still not accounted for. It doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bad news, but for families and friends waiting to get some word of their loved ones, that can be a bit discouraging, but others are finding out that their relatives or friends are doing just fine, because 102 have been accounted for.
The problem here is, this is a condominium, but it’s also many units in that building are rented out on a short-term basis. And those units are fairly pricey. Of course, by Florida standards, everything is relative, right, up to — worth up to $2.8 million.
Let’s go back to this presser.
CAVA: (SPEAKING SPANISH)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Madam Mayor.
Following the mayor, we’re going to have the board of County Commissioner’s chairman, Honorable Jose Diaz.
JOSE DIAZ, MIAMI-DADE BOARD OF COUNTY COMMISSION CHAIR: Thank you.
This has been a very sad day for us and our community. But it’s also a day that we could see this community come together and provide the very best in support of a very bad and ugly situation.
I want to thank the firefighters that since 1:48 in the morning have not stopped in trying to rescue as many people as possible. I want to thank the mayor for all her work in what has been taking place.
This is very sad when you’re dealing with people that don’t know the outcome of their family. They’re very worried. They just are desperate, in the sense that they want to know what’s actually taken place.
But we continue to try to rescue. We continue to try to find more people.
And the number doubled, as the mayor said, which is great news. We want to keep going on that.
And I know that the chief of fire has more figures, as do the director of police, as to stats. All I can say is I am incredibly proud of this community and all its residents and the outpour of support and what they’re doing.
Thank you to all. And the prayers, that is extremely important as to what’s taken place.
So, to us, please continue. Our men and women are doing the very best that they can. They’re the very best in the world in what they do, and, hopefully, we’ll continue to get good results out of such a tragic situation.
CAVUTO: All right, just want to bring you up to date on what they’re telling us right now, at least 99 people who remain unaccounted for, but
102 people who are accounted for.
They have not yet addressed the story that’s making the rounds, particularly first in USA Today, that this particular high-rise that collapsed was determined to be unstable a year ago.
That’s according to a researcher being quoted from Florida International University.
Now, quoting from USA Today: “The building, constructed in 1981, had been sinking at an alarming rate since the 1990s, according to a study that was conducted in the Department of Earth and Environment.” When those who are conducting the study got news of the Champlain Towers South condominium collapse, they remembered that study.
Quoting one: “I looked at it this morning and said, oh, my God, we did detect that.”
Now, none of this is necessarily tied to this collapse. The building, though, was sinking ,according to these studying it, at a rate of two millimeters a year in the 1990s, and could have slowed or accelerated in that time. So, in other words, in more recent history, whether that was continuing or addressed, we just don’t know.
A 1990 study of land displacement in the area around the towers had shown, according to USA Today, that the land sank at this rate during the course of that study. So, it doesn’t say how many years in the 1990s, but in the 1990s,.
Let’s go back to the presser.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: … from the other side.
We have to all pray. The county, the mayor, the firefighters, the first responders, we’re going to all continue to work. But we need everybody to continue to pray, because — and not just for the people who were in those buildings, not — but for their families who are desperately hoping that they’re safe, for the firefighters and first responders who are going in there trying to save their lives.
For this community, we have to pray. And we’re going to pray. And we’re going to work. We’re going to pray and we’re going to work.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Mr. Vice Chair.
We’re going to follow by Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D-FL): Thank you very much, Mayor Levine Cava, to the members of the County Commission.
I woke up this morning in Washington, D.C., to the horror of seeing a building that had collapsed in Surfside, which is entirely included in my congressional district.
I spent the morning before I got on the plane to come down here speaking with Mayor Burkett and the officials in the city of Surfside who have done a remarkable job of mobilizing, along with Mayor Levine Cava and her team.
This is — it is essential that we have a whole-of-government effort here.
And so making sure — so my responsibility, as a member of Congress that represents this community is to make sure that we can have there be no daylight between the federal, state and local governments and ensuring that we have the assistance of the federal government to make sure that our community has the resources they need to make sure that not only the unexpected, unanticipated expenses that come with this kind of disaster are accounted for.
But also there will be need for federal housing assistance that only comes with a disaster declaration that we’ve been working with the White House since this morning to make sure is declared.
Once the governor makes that declaration, now that the mayor has sent hers up, I spoke with the chief of staff at the White House, Ron Klain, before I got on the plane, and they were already preparing to make sure everything is in place for when they receive the emergency disaster declaration from the governor.
So, everyone is ready. It’s all hands on deck. I will tell you that I have been getting outreach from constituents who had family members or people they knew in the building. And they are among the unaccounted for.
We do all need to pray. I just had a chance to view the site up close. And, I mean, the humanity that you see, the daily lives — the evidence of just people living their daily lives and that everything, everything evaporated in an instant, it’s just — it’s enormously devastating.
And so we really need to make sure. And we will. I’m thankful that President Biden made it very clear that they are prepared to mobilize everything that this community needs.
And I will be working with my fellow elected officials to ensure that.
So, please, please know that this entire day since the news of this tragedy began, we have all been working very closely. And we’ll keep this community close and everyone in our prayers.
Thank you so much.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, ma’am.
We’re going to follow-up with the assistant chief of operations, Raide Jadallah, followed by public information officer Erika Benitez in Spanish.
RAIDE JADALLAH, MIAMI-DADE FIRE RESCUE ASSISTANT CHIEF: Good afternoon.
So, since the last press conference, at 6:00 a.m. this morning, we shifted our operations from the inside of the building to underneath the rubble.
We conducted an assessment, sonar and search cams, on the top of the rubble, sonars, those listening devices. We also utilized canine dogs for the top of the rubble early in the search phase.
What we have determined was that all the resources needed to shift underneath the rubble. There’s a parking garage that’s beneath the building that’s given us better access to gain, basically, tunnelways to these different floors.
All the resources have continued to basically shift approximately three — I’m sorry — approximately 60 to 70 firefighters at a time, coupled with our urban search-and-rescue team, underneath the parking garage.
Again, that’s — what we found was, on top of the rubble area, we’re unable to locate anything voids, any areas that we could actually operate to start conducting these searches.
This process is slow and methodical. You see that, every time there’s a shift in the rubble, some — we have additional rubble that shifts on us.
We make a cut, and there’s a shift with additional boulders. What we end up finding is what we just encountered, a small fire.
We did have a small fire as a result of some shifting of the building. We were — we were able to extinguish it within 20 minutes, after which time, we went back in and we conducted search operations. The operations will continue throughout the night.
We have our urban search-and-rescue team, again, coupled with additional resources that we have that are going to replace our firefighters tomorrow morning to bring in fresh crews. But, again, every possible resource that we have, including local assets from municipalities, are being brought in.
And every opportunity for any viable victims that we can find, we will locate. Thank you.
QUESTION: Can you clarify whether the 102 who have been found — where they were from?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: PIO Erika Benitez is going to in Spanish for Fire.
CAVUTO: All right, I want to go to Steve Harrigan right now.
He has more news for us, as we wait and hear from local officials. The good news, of course, 102 people accounted for, 99 still unaccounted for.
And, Steve, I know you started out the hour reporting of the — saying dogs had detected people who might be alive under a lot of that rubble. What’s the latest?
HARRIGAN: They detected possible signs of life. And we are still hearing from local officials, as well as from Florida Governor DeSantis, that this is still a search-and-rescue operation. There is still hope.
And you just heard officials there say they’re going to continue urban rescue operation throughout the night. So we haven’t had any great victories. We haven’t seen any celebrations. But there are indications that there could be a chance of life underneath some of that rubble, and operations to try to find and rescue people will continue throughout the night — Neil.
CAVUTO: Steve, I’m also wondering, for relatives and friends of those who as of yet they have not heard from, where are they? How close are they to the condo? Where our police and experts updating them?
HARRIGAN: They’re within a short walking distance.
There is a center for family members, as well as a hot line set up. There has been tremendous communication throughout the day, really trying to get a number on how many people could have been in that building under night — overnight. We have seen the number rise from 50 unaccounted for this morning to 99 now.
It could be a grim process, though, over several days or even a week or more to try and determine and find the bodies of those who are lost in this tragedy, Neil.
CAVUTO: Have you heard anything too? It began with USA Today, now others reporting this concern about this particular condo building that had been sinking.
I don’t know how long that was going in the 1990s. But, apparently, experts quoted from Florida University had been saying, when they heard of this collapse, they had put two and two together, said this was the building in question sinking two milliliters a year. We don’t know for how many years.
We don’t know how long it lasted. It was something they detected in the 1990s, but any talk of that being at issue here?
HARRIGAN: Certainly a lot of talk about that, but I think caution is the byword here.
I think this has to be seen as one possible theory among many for this disaster. This is a 40-year-old building. It was having construction on the roof. There was major construction next door. There were lawsuits filed against this building for cracks. The swimming pool was leaking.
So there were a number of red flags, but whether that’s the cause or not still in doubt. If you hear the mayor of Surfside talk — I heard him on your show a short time ago — he said that there’s no logical explanation for this, there’s no rational explanation.
HARRIGAN: So, right now, we’re hearing differing views as to what could be the cause.
CAVUTO: So, bottom line, this was the only building affected? In other words, there wasn’t any extensive structural damage to neighboring buildings that we know of?
HARRIGAN: That’s right.
Cautious measures are in effect with those neighboring buildings, but only this building, as of now, affected by this.
CAVUTO: All right, thank you, Steve.
Now back to the presser.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It’s OK. We won’t go without you.
CAVUTO: All right, we’re waiting for him to be mic’ed up and take some questions here.
Let’s see if they get to that.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We’re all excited.
QUESTION: So, Mayor Levine Cava, Kevin Ozebek WSVN Channel 7.
Do you have any idea why this happened?
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