Rental Collapse: Miami-Dade Mayor says 4 extra our bodies had been pulled from the rubble, bringing the demise toll to 32
Another 113 people have been missing since the building’s sudden collapse in the middle of the night two weeks ago, Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava told a press conference on Tuesday.
Of those 113 reports, “only about 70 were people whom we could confirm were actually in the building during the collapse”. She added that detectives continue to interview friends and family to match names, dates of birth and apartment numbers.
According to health system spokeswoman Lidia Amoretti-Morgado, two people will remain in the hospital and in the care of the Jackson Health System after the collapse. For privacy reasons, according to Amoretti-Morgado, no further details are available.
“We’re now 100% at full strength and pulling everyone out of this pile of rubble,” Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett told CNN.
The condo collapse has raised the question of whether other residential buildings in Miami-Dade County, where sea levels are rising, salty air is corrosive, and nearly two-thirds of all commercial, condominium, and apartment buildings are as old or older than that, might be at risk 40-year-old building that collapsed, according to a CNN analysis of the county records.
In particular, officials said they had concerns about the condominium’s sister building, Champlain Towers North, which was being built around the same time with the same developer and likely the same materials as the collapsed building, Burkett said.
“Since we do not know why the first building collapsed, we have serious concerns about this building,” said Burkett on Tuesday.
Tropical storm poses a new challenge to recovery efforts
Tropical storm Elsa has not yet hit Florida with full force, but it has started to rain. Despite the weather conditions, emergency services were seen on site, putting on biohazard suits and continuing the search.
Since June 24, crews have been ripping through up to 5 meters of concrete in hopes of finding survivors and recovering the bodies of those who were in the Champlain Towers South when part of the building collapsed in the middle of the night.
The rescue work was briefly interrupted at the weekend as preparations were made for the demolition of the building that was still standing. Officials believed the move was necessary to keep rescue workers safe, especially given the forecast of rain, wind and thunderstorms coming this week.
Although the storm is expected to move closer to Florida’s west coast, National Weather Service meteorologist Robert Molleda said Surfside could still see dangerous conditions, including “heavy rain, local flooding, and even the possibility of a tornado or two in South Florida “. . ”
The storm can bring complications, but with the remaining structure demolished, the effort will be much safer, officials said.
“The worst that could happen was a storm come in and blow up the building on top,” said Burkett.
That threat had prevented the crews from entering much of the collapse site, but work has now resumed without the “threat of danger,” Burkett said.
“It’s encouraging to see how aggressively they attack the bunch,” he said.
Demolition opens up search areas, but buries the residents’ belongings
Officials attributed the ease, safety and speed with which the crews operate on the rubble to the demolition on Sunday evening.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said Monday that the teams on the ground are making “a lot of progress” and that while the demolition decision was not made by his office, he felt it was the “right thing” to help everyone move forward.
The danger was that the structure could fall onto the rubble – or the people working on it – without warning or control. Instead, Mayor Cava said Monday that the crews were able to carry out the demolition “exactly as planned”.
“All that landed on the existing heap was dust,” she said.
“We really couldn’t go on without demolishing this building,” said Cava. “As we speak, the teams are working on the part of the pile that was inaccessible before the building was demolished.”
For residents of the demolished section of the building, feelings are more complicated: they have been evacuated and told it was unsafe to go in and retrieve their belongings before the building was destroyed.
Burkett said people around the world raised millions of dollars to support these families, many of whom have been relocated to hotels. Officials have also asked them to catalog their personal belongings in hopes of recovering them from the rubble and returning them.
“All politicians are focused on supporting families and getting everyone out of this rubble and reuniting them with their families,” said CNN’s Burkett Boris Sanchez. “It is really a beautiful thing. There is a lot of love here.”
Burkett said Tuesday that several families have asked to visit the collapse site again and he will work to make that happen.
“Of course we have to bypass the rescue effort,” he said. “I think it would be very, very good for these families to see again the amazing effort that is being made for them.”
Officials have not given up hope of finding people alive
In addition, other federal partners have arrived on site to investigate why the building collapsed. Mayor Cava said the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the US Geological Survey, and the National Science Foundation are deploying staff.
“NIST, our federal partner, continues to work closely with construction specialists, detectives and local fire departments as the evidence-gathering process is in full swing,” she said.
“They are capturing all possible intelligence from the rubble and all evidence is properly tagged and logged.”
Given the “harsh terrain of the heap,” LIDAR scanners work so they can “better analyze the rubble,” she said. “All of this evidence will be vital to any NIST fact-finding report.”
Since returning to work after the demolition, rescue teams have recovered a number of other bodies.
Two of the deceased were identified as Ingrid Ainsworth, 66, and Tzvi Ainsworth, 68, according to Miami-Dade police. Six of the 32 victims killed in the incident remain unknown.
The victims are between 4 and 92 years old.
Despite the slim chance, officials still hope to find people alive in the rubble.
“Hope must not be given up,” said Burkett. “I think we all agree on that. We owe it to the families. We have a duty, unlimited resources – we’ll make sure everyone gets out. “
correction: An earlier version of this story gave Daniella Levine Cava the wrong title. She is the mayor of Miami-Dade.
CNN’s Allison Flexner, Raja Razek, Kay Jones, Rob Kuznia, Scott Glover, Curt Devine, Casey Tolan, Gregory Lemos and Rosa Flores contributed to this report.