Family of five from Argentina among missing in Florida condo collapse

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Five members of an Argentinian family, including a 7-year-old girl, are among the 152 people who remain unaccounted for in the deadly Florida condo building collapse — as relatives of a missing student were also heard screaming her name while visiting the rubble on Sunday, in the hopes she was alive and might hear them.

Single mom Graciela Cattarossi, 48, her daughter, Stella, her parents Graciela and Gino, and her sister Andrea — who was visiting at the time the Champlain Towers South Condo in Surfside collapsed – all are missing, the Miami Herald reported.

“Her devotion to her child was unparalleled,” her friend Kathryn Rooney Vera of Miami told the news outlet. The two women knew each other since they were neighbors at Miami Beach’s Grand Venetian in 2008.

The Uruguayan consul has confirmed that Cattarossi’s mother is an Uruguayan national and was a diplomat in the country in the late 1960s, according to the Herald.

Vera, whose kids attend Von Wedell Montessori with Stella, said her missing pal’s generosity extended to friends as well as family.  

“She worked hard for everything she had, and she was so generous,” Vera told the paper, describing Cattarossi as “down to earth” and “a little bit Bohemian.”

Vera also described her friend as a photographer and immigrant, who loved her adopted country.

“She loved everything we stand for,” Vera said. “She used to say ‘Americans must understand what they have and hang on to it and fight for their freedom.’ She just loved the essence of America.”

She said she wondered if Cattarossi had a chance to pull her daughter close amid the catastrophe.

 “I hope she put her arms around her little girl,” she said.

Meanwhile, the relatives of missing student Nicole Langsfeld took turns screaming her name at the tragic site Sunday, in the hopes that she might hear them.

Langsfeld and her husband Luis Sadovnic “are missing following the tragic events there and we are praying and hopeful for their rescue and safety,” according to a statement on GoFundMe.

CNN reporter Faith Karimi wrote on Twitter: “Some relatives of those missing in Surfside were allowed to visit the collapse site this afternoon. (The area is cordoned off). 

“Nicole Langsfeld’s uncle told me when they got there, they took turns screaming out her name, hoping she’d hear them beneath the rubble,” she added.

Others missing include Andrés Galfrascoli, a 45-year-old plastic surgeon from Argentina, his 55-year-old partner, Fabián Nuñez, and their 6-year-old adopted daughter, Sofía, who were reportedly visiting a friend in unit 803 for one night.

The couple — who had come to Florida for about three months to escape the worsening COVID-19 pandemic back home – were staying with longtime friend Nicolás Patoka in Hollywood, some 40 minutes north of Champlain Towers, the Herald reported.

Pakota offered his friends his apartment in Surfside to allow them to take Sofia to the condo’s private beach. He told Argentinian newspaper Clarín that the decision haunts him.

“I wish we had told them no,” an emotional Patoka said, the Herald reported. “They weren’t just friends, they were family.”

Núñez is a well-known theater producer whose social circle includes Argentinian celebrities like TV actor Nicolás Vázquez and ballet dancer Flavio Mendoza, according to the report.

Galfrascoli is a prominent plastic surgeon who is close friends with Fabiola Yañez, the current first lady of Argentina.

“He was just the best person,” Alicia Aguilar de Caba, one of his patients, told the Herald. Even though he had famous clients, he was always kind to his patients regardless of how much they could afford, she said.

“During our appointments, he’d never miss a chance to laugh and joke with me about Corrientes, where my husband is also from,” said de Caba, adding that Galfrascolialso always spoke about his family during appointments, especially his daughter, whom he loved very much.

“That girl was their dream,” Pakota told Clarín. “They are such humble and good people who never had anything in life handed to them. It would be impossible to explain how much they had to fight to have their little angel, and now she’s also missing.”  

Some of those killed in the tragedy also have been mourned, including Manuel “Manny” LaFont, 54, owned a condo on the eighth floor of Champlain Towers South.

Danny Berry, director of Miami Beach Youth Baseball League, told the Miami Herald that LaFont, a business consultant, spent most afternoons playing ball with his 10-year-old son Santi.

“They were out there until the lights went out,” Berry told the paper.

His ex-wife, Adriana LaFont, picked up Santi and their 13-year-old daughter on Wednesday night, hours before the deadly collapse, the Herald reported.

Adriana asked her Facebook friends to pray and posted pictures of her family from their years together at the Champlain.

”So many memories inside the walls that are no more today, forever engraved experiences in the heart,” she wrote.

LaFont had just started a new job after being out of work during most of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I was hoping when I heard the news, he was out of town,” Berry told the Herald. “I called his cellphone. It went to voicemail.”

Two other victims have been identified as Luis Bermúdez, a 26-year-old from Puerto Rico who lived on the seventh floor of Champlain Towers South, and his mother Ana Ortiz, 46, the outlet reported.

The two disappeared along with Ortiz’s newlywed husband Frankie Kleiman and Frankie’s mother, Nancy Kress Levin, and his brother Jay Kleiman, who was visiting from Puerto Rico.

“God decided that he wanted one more angel in heaven. I still do not believe it. I LOVE you and will love you forever,” his father, also named Luis Bermúdez, wrote on Facebook.

The grieving dad shared a photograph of himself embracing his son as his child smiled at the camera, saying it was one of the most beautiful images they had together.

“My Luiyo. You gave me everything,” he wrote on the back of the photo. “I will miss you all my life…I will never leave you alone.”

Bermúdez’s aunt Magui said: “Taking care of us from heaven! Fly high my warrior!!!”

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