aerial photo shows part of the 12-story oceanfront Champlain Towers South Condo that collapsed early Thursday, June 24, 2021 in Surfside, Fla
Aerial photo shows part of the 12-story oceanfront Champlain Towers South Condo that collapsed early Thursday, June 24, 2021 in Surfside, Fla
Photo: AP
An aerial photo shows part of the 12-story oceanfront Champlain Towers South Condo that collapsed June 24, 2021 in Surfside, Florida

Search in Florida collapse to take weeks; death toll reaches 90

As Israeli rescue team departs in a touching farewell ceremony, others from around U.S. continue unrelenting search for the 31 people still missing among the ruins of Surfside apartment block that collapsed in middle of night last month

Associated Press |
Published: 07.12.21, 12:46
Authorities searching for victims of a deadly collapse in Florida said Sunday they hope to conclude their painstaking work in the coming weeks as a team of first responders from Israel departed the site.
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  • Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said 90 deaths have now been confirmed in last month's collapse of the 12-story Champlain Towers South in Surfside, up from 86 a day before.
    Among them are 71 bodies that have been identified, and their families have been notified, she said. Some 31 people remain listed as missing.
    6 צפייה בגלריה
    aerial photo shows part of the 12-story oceanfront Champlain Towers South Condo that collapsed early Thursday, June 24, 2021 in Surfside, Fla
    aerial photo shows part of the 12-story oceanfront Champlain Towers South Condo that collapsed early Thursday, June 24, 2021 in Surfside, Fla
    An aerial photo shows part of the 12-story oceanfront Champlain Towers South Condo that collapsed June 24, 2021 in Surfside, Florida
    (Photo: AP)
    The Miami-Dade Police Department said three young children were among those recently identified.
    Crews continued to search the remaining pile of rubble, peeling layer after layer of debris in search of bodies. The unrelenting search has resulted in the recovery of over 14 million pounds (about 6.4 million kilograms) of concrete and debris, Levine Cava said.
    Miami-Dade Fire Chief Alan Cominsky said it was uncertain when recovery operations would be completed because it remains hard to know when the final body would be found.
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    South Florida Urban Search and Rescue team look through rubble for survivors at the partially collapsed Champlain Towers South condo building in Surfside, Fla
    South Florida Urban Search and Rescue team look through rubble for survivors at the partially collapsed Champlain Towers South condo building in Surfside, Fla
    South Florida Urban Search and Rescue team looking through the rubble for survivors at the partially collapsed Champlain Towers South condo building in Surfside
    (Photo: AP)
    When the recovery phase began Wednesday, officials were hoping it could be done within three weeks. In an interview Sunday morning near the site, Cominsky said it might now be as few as two weeks, based on the current pace of work.
    "We were looking at a 14-day to 21-day timeframe," he said, adding that the timeline remained "a sliding scale."
    Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett stressed the care that rescue workers are taking in peeling back layers of rubble in hopes of recovering not only bodies but also possessions of the victims. He said the work is so delicate that crews have found unbroken wine bottles amid the rubble.
    6 צפייה בגלריה
    The Israeli rescue team looking through the rubble for survivors at the partially collapsed Champlain Towers South condo building in Surfside
    The Israeli rescue team looking through the rubble for survivors at the partially collapsed Champlain Towers South condo building in Surfside
    The Israeli rescue team looking through the rubble for survivors at the partially collapsed Champlain Towers South condo building in Surfside
    (Photo: AP)
    "It doesn't get any less difficult and finding victims, that experience doesn't change for our search and rescue folks," he said. "It takes a toll, but you've got to love the heart that they're putting into this and we're very grateful."
    On Saturday night, members of the community walked along Collins Avenue, the city's main thoroughfare, to celebrate the crews that have come from across the country - and as far as Israel and Mexico - to help in the rescue, and now recovery, effort. The Israeli search and rescue team arrived in South Florida shortly after the building collapsed on June 24 and was heading home Sunday.
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    A Magen David with the words "Surfside Strong, at a memorial site near the collapsed building outside Miami
    A Magen David with the words "Surfside Strong, at a memorial site near the collapsed building outside Miami
    A Star of David with the words 'Surfside Strong' is placed at a memorial site near the collapsed building outside Miami
    (Photo: AFP)
    Members of the crews that have been searching the site 24 hours a day since the collapse lined both sides of the street, shaking hands and bidding farewell to the Israeli team.
    The Israeli team joined other task forces from around the United States to assist first responders from Miami and Miami-Dade County, working in 12-hour shifts. They have searched through South Florida's intense summer heat, and in pouring rain, pausing only when lightning was spotted nearby. They also paused operations as officials made plans to implode the still-standing portion of the condo tower on July 4.
    6 צפייה בגלריה
    Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava honors the Israeli search and rescue team who took part in the recovery efforts in Surfside
    Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava honors the Israeli search and rescue team who took part in the recovery efforts in Surfside
    Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava honors the Israeli search and rescue team who took part in the recovery efforts in Surfside
    (Photo: Getty Images)
    The Israeli team used blueprints of the building to create detailed 3D images of the disaster site to aid in the search. They also gathered information from families of the missing, many of who were Jewish, to build a room-by-room model laying out where people would have been sleeping during the pre-dawn collapse.
    Levine Cava said the memorial walk on Saturday night was "a beautiful moment." She gave the keys to the county to the Israeli commander and colonel - her first two handed out as mayor.
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    The Israeli rescue team presents Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava with an Israeli flag signed by all the team's members before their departure
    The Israeli rescue team presents Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava with an Israeli flag signed by all the team's members before their departure
    The Israeli rescue team presents Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava with an Israeli flag signed by all the team's members before their departure
    (Photo: AFP)
    Four teams from Florida, Indiana and Pennsylvania are still dedicated to the recovery effort, Cominsky said. Teams from Virginia, New Jersey and Ohio are preparing to leave.
    "To give you an answer when we feel we'll recover everyone, I can't give you an exact date," the fire chief said.
    "We're doing everything that we can, everything possible, until we feel that we've delayered every floor."

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