Iliana Monteagudo (64) gave up her usual sleeping pill when she went to bed on the evening of June 23. She had an appointment early in the morning and under no circumstances wanted to oversleep.
For the first time, one of the few survivors describes what exactly happened during the collapse of Surfside near Miami in “Champlain Towers South”.
It was after 1 a.m. when Iliana Monteagudo suddenly woke up in her apartment 611. She perceives a “strange energy”, noises.
She goes into the living room, wants to close the balcony door. “Suddenly I had the feeling that the building was swaying. There was such a crunch. ”She turns around:“ There was a two centimeter wide crack in the ceiling, it snaked its way along the wall, it quickly became much wider! At that moment something inside of me said: ‘Run for your life!’ “
Iliana Monteagudo runs into her bedroom, pulling something on that she can just grab. Takes her wallet, her cell phone. “And then I extinguished the candle that was burning at the entrance next to a figure of a saint.”
There is nobody but her in the hallway on the 6th floor. “It was dark and deadly quiet. Nobody, no alarm. I knew that I shouldn’t use the lift. “
And then Iliana Monteagudo runs to the emergency stairwell at the other end of the building. She has only been living in the Champlain Towers since December, but at that moment does not realize that there is an emergency staircase right next to Apartment 611.
The 64-year-old hurries down the stairs in her bathing sandals: “I heard two floors below that the building next to me was collapsing. I screamed, ‘God help me! I want to see my children and grandchildren one more time. I want to go on living! ‘”
She manages to get out of the stairwell unharmed: “I was standing ankle-deep in the water. A security guard was there, he helped me to climb a wall. “She is safe, sees the full extent of the disaster:” I am happy that I am alive. And at the same time I feel guilty that I am still alive while so many people have died. “
A total of 37 people survived the collapse. 124 were still missing on Saturday. There is little hope of finding anyone alive.
24 dead have been recovered so far. A woman whose voice the rescuers had heard for hours a few days ago could not be helped either. Alan Cominsky, Miami Fire Department chief: “The woman could not be located. Then the calls are silent. “
The last victim to be recovered from the rubble mountain is Stella Cattarossi (7). The firefighter who found her is Enrique Arango. Her father. He took off his firefighter jacket and covered the dead child with it. And put the American flag “Stars and Stripes” on the stretcher when Stella was taken away.