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Emergency services have launched a huge rescue operation after a building collapsed close to Miami beach in the early hours of the morning.

Shocking pictures and video show debris at a corner of Collins Avenue on 88th Street, with a huge rescue operation underway.

Witnesses claim to have heard people screaming beneath the rubble during frantic efforts to free them.

It is not known how many people were injured when the building, believed to be a 12-storey apartment block named Champlain Towers South, collapsed.

One witness reported seeing people being rescued from balconies as hundreds of firefighters responded to the incident.

A huge rescue operation has been launched near Miami Beach
(Image: JCGroves/Twitter)

Shocking pictures show the debris after the building collapsed
(Image: JCGroves/Twitter)

Journalist Joel Franco posted from the scene: "MDFR (Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Department) now rescuing people from the balcony."

He had earlier written: "Building collapse in Surfside. 88th and Collins. dozens of units responding."

Mr Franco said a search and rescue truck had been sent to the scene.

The MDFR posted on Twitter: "MDFR is on scene of a partial building collapse near 88 Street & Collins Avenue. Over 80 MDFR units including TRT are on scene with assistance from municipal fire departments.

"Updates will be provided on Twitter as they become available."

Hundreds of emergency workers rushed to the scene of the building collapse
(Image: Joel Franco /Twitter)

It is not yet known what caused the building to collapse, or how many people were inside at the time.

Miami Beach Police said in a brief statement on Twitter: "MBPD and @MiamiBeachFire are assisting the Town of Surfside at a partial building collapse located at 8777 Collins Avenue in Surfside, Florida.

" Multiple police and fire agencies from across Miami-Dade are assisting."

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