Greek American student Andreas Giannitsopoulos is reportedly missing following the 12-story Champlain Towers South building collapse in Surfside, Miami on Thursday.
A total of 156 people are unaccounted for including the 21-year-old student at Vanderbilt University, located in Nashville, Tennessee.
The family of the missing student, originally from Xanthi, northern Greece, lives permanently in the state of Texas. His father, Costas Giannitsopoulos, told the Wall Street Journal that his son was visiting Miami and was staying with a family friend, who is also missing.
According to his LinkedIn profile, Giannitsopoulos is studying Business Strategy and International Markets.
Missing Greek American is an “excellent student and athlete”
His grandfather and namesake. Andreas Giannitsopoulos, speaking to ANT1, confirmed in a trembling voice that his grandson was among the missing.
“My son, Costas, did not reveal the news to me until today (Sunday) because I was going to have an operation on Monday. My grandson went to Miami for a vacation. He is an excellent student with a scholarship and an incredible athlete, a perfect character,” he told the Greek TV station.
The 21-year-old student, as his grandfather revealed, planned to visit Greece this summer for the first time.
Search for missing in Miami continues; 5 confirmed dead
Five people have now been confirmed dead after one more body was pulled from the rubble of a collapsed apartment complex late on Saturday.
Speaking at a news conference, Miami-Dade county mayor Daniella Levine Cava also said search and rescue teams had discovered other unspecified human remains.
Officials said the remains are being sent to the medical examiner, and they are also gathering DNA samples from family members to help identify them.
Four of the people who died have been named, with Stacie Fang, 54, Antonio Lozano, 83, Gladys Lozano, 79, and Manuel LaFont, 54, all confirmed to have passed away.
Officials said they still held hope that some of those unaccounted for might be found alive.
Aided by dogs, infrared scanning and heavy equipment, rescuers hope that air pockets that may have formed in the debris might keep people alive.
“The biggest thing now is hope,” Miami-Dade fire chief Alan Cominsky said. “That’s what’s driving us. It’s an extremely difficult situation.”
President Joe Biden said he had spoken with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to offer assistance as needed.
“My heart is with the community of Surfside as they grieve their lost loved ones and wait anxiously as search and rescue efforts continue,” Biden tweeted.
Meanwhile, a newly released 2018 report showed that an engineer found evidence of major structural damage beneath the pool deck and “concrete deterioration” in the underground parking garage of Champlain Towers South, three years before it collapsed without warning on Thursday.
Neighbors had stated on social media that they had heard the building emitting “groaning” sounds for days prior to the collapse. Florida is noted for its unstable, marshy ground and its many sinkholes that have been known to swallow entire buildings, including homes.
Authorities said they will start an audit within the next 30 days of nearby buildings approaching their 40-year review to ensure their safety.