Stay Updates: Miami Space Condominium Collapse: NPR
A memorial to the Guara family will be posted on a fence near Champlain Towers South on July 6th in Surfside, Florida. Officials overseeing the search at the Florida condo site’s collapse seem increasingly gloomy about the prospect of finding someone alive. Carl Juste / AP Hide caption
Carl Juste / AP
Carl Juste / AP
SURFSIDE, Fla – Rescue teams retrieved 10 more bodies from a collapsed condominium building Wednesday, and the emotional toll rose as officials fought back tears and lamented the ordeal of exhausted families still awaiting news of missing loved ones.
On the 14th day of the search, most bodies were found in a single day, bringing the death toll to 46.
During a press conference, Miami-Dade Mayoress Daniella Levine Cava repeatedly tried not to cry, paused and shook her head as she described the impact the tragedy had on rescue workers and the victims’ families.
“Our commitment to this mission is deeply personal. This is our community, our neighbors, our families. And our first responders have been searching this pile every day since the collapse as though looking for their own loved ones,” she said.
The recent withdrawals reflect what rescue officials said would be an accelerated pace of work after the remaining portion of the condominium building was demolished on Sunday evening.
Miami-Dade’s assistant fire chief Raide Jadallah told family members about the newly discovered remains in a private meeting on Wednesday morning.
The crews “had removed the heap considerably,” said Jadallah. “They could go to different areas to inspect them.”
Rescuers still have not discovered any new “void” or pockets in the rubble that may have housed survivors, Jadallah said.
No one has been rescued from the site since the first hours after the building collapsed on June 24th, when many of its residents were asleep.
Jadallah informed the families that the work was still a search and rescue operation and had not yet moved on to a rescue mission.
“We’re not there yet,” he said.
Later, Miami-Dade fire chief Alan Cominsky sighed when asked during the press conference if officials gave the families false hopes.
“Of course it’s very difficult,” he said. “We have exhausted every effort and there we are, we have exhausted every effort and we will continue from there.”
Levine Cava then stepped to the microphones: “I just want to say that these families were informed twice a day. Every question was answered. They were helped to get to the close as soon as possible.”
Maggie Castro, a Miami-Dade firefighter and paramedic, said families were physically and emotionally exhausted.
“There are many, many emotional roller coasters that they have experienced, just trying to stay positive and keep the wait,” said Castro, who has briefed families on a daily basis.
“I think there has been some kind of shift towards acceptance, but of course there is some sadness with it,” she told The Associated Press in an interview.
Workers dug through powdered concrete on Tuesday where the Champlain Towers South building on Surfside once stood and filled buckets that were returned for emptying and then returning.
The close look at the search came in a video released Tuesday by the Miami-Dade County Fire Department when rain and wind from Tropical Storm Elsa disrupted efforts.
Reporters got their closest personal look at the site on Tuesday, though it was limited to the portion of the building that workers demolished on Sunday after the initial collapse left it standing but was dangerously unstable. A pile of smashed concrete and twisted steel was about nine meters high and spanned about half the length of a soccer field. A couple of excavators tore rubble from the heap that blocked the view of the search.