- Close to 150 people are still missing after a Florida condo building collapsed.
- Survivalists say while there should still be hope, the likelihood of survival is slim.
- Experts say the most important thing to survive may be mindset and a will to live.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Almost 150 people are still unaccounted for after a building collapsed in Florida on Thursday, and survival experts say with each passing day the likelihood of finding survivors diminishes but is not impossible.
Search and rescue crews are still working through the rubble after the Champlain Towers South collapsed. At least 12 people have been confirmed dead, with 149 still unaccounted for.
“I’m always amazed at the simple things that can take life, but also the incredible things that humans can endure. So while I always hold out hope when you look at the big picture as a tactical person would have to … really after three days, normal survival rates start to go down very quickly,” survivalist Mykel Hawke told Insider.
Hawke said the chances go up if those trapped can get oxygen and stay hydrated.
“There seem to be enough air pockets in the rubble that the oxygen could be available and provided that, maybe there’s a broken pipe or something that they can use to stay hydrated,” Hawke said. “There is a chance that someone or some people can still survive this. When you start hitting seven days, that really goes down.”
Survival depends on several factors – mainly access to air and water, ability to regulate body temperature, pre-existing health conditions, injuries sustained during the collapse, and mental will to live.
However, while experts say hope is necessary, the reality may be bleak.
“Essentially a giant building fell on those people and on the good/bad scale of survivability, that’s very bad,” Tim Smith of the Jack Mountain Bushcraft School told Insider.
Smith said in a wilderness situation, a person could survive for 40 days if they get oxygen, water, and can sleep, but in a case of a collapsed building, their chances go down if they’re injured or don’t have access to necessary medicine.
“You don’t get pinned under tons of construction debris without having things happen, things break, being wounded, those sorts of things, and they all will dramatically shorten any sort of survival episode,” Smith said.
How the building fell could either help or harm those still under the rubble, according to Shane Hobel of the Mountain Scout Survival School. Hobel told Insider that because the floors of the building pancaked on top of each other, there’s a chance that they layer on top of one another, leaving room in between the floors where people could avoid being crushed. If that’s the case, there’s a better chance of survival.
Tony Nester from the Ancient Pathways survival school added the weather in Florida might also be hurting things. The heat means it’s easy for people to become dehydrated. Maintaining a core body temperature at around 98.6 degrees and staying hydrated is critical for survival.
Most of all, experts said maintaining a mindset of hope and a will to live is one of the most important factors.
“If they hear the rescuers out there working. If they’ve got loved ones that they’re hanging on for. Heck, even if they got someone they’re pissed off at, and they want to just survive because they don’t want them to get the upper hand in an argument – any of those factors [can] just keep them hanging on,” Hawke said. “And [if] they got a little bit of air, a little bit of space, a little bit of water … there’s still a chance that they could survive.”