A ramped-up rescue effort at the collapsed South Florida condo building faced new threats from the weather as a tropical storm approached the state.
On Monday, lightning forced crews to pause the search for victims of the June 24 collapse in Surfside and a garage area in the rubble filled with water, officials said.
The latest forecasts showed Tropical Storm Elsa moving westward, mostly sparing South Florida, but the area near the collapsed building experienced thunderstorms, and another day of unsettled weather was expected.
The delays frustrated rescue crews, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said.
"Truly they live to save lives, and they've pushed ahead no matter what is thrown in their way," she said at an evening news conference.
Still, crews got a big boost when the unstable remaining portion of the Champlain Towers South building came down Sunday. The demolition "prompted by fears that the structure could fall " allowed rescuers into previously inaccessible places, including bedrooms where people were believed to be sleeping at the time of the disaster, officials said.
Four more victims were discovered, raising the death toll to 28 people. Another 117 people remained unaccounted for.
"The site is busier and more active now than I've seen it since we began, now that the damaged building is down," Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said, adding that heavy equipment was now able to move freely around the site.
Rescuers hoped to get a clearer picture of voids that may exist in the rubble as they search for anyone still trapped under the fallen wing of the building, but they found very few voids, Miami-Dade Assistant Fire Chief Raide Jadallah told family members late Monday.
"We continue to remain focused on our primary mission, and that is to leave no stone unturned and to find as many people as we can and to help bring either some answers to family and loved ones or to bring some closure to them," City of Miami Fire Rescue Capt. Ignatius Carroll said.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz earlier on Tuesday, approved extending the stay of the IDF Home Front Command delegation operating as part of the recovery mission at the Florida disaster site, for an additional week.
The decision followed requests by local Jewish organizations as well as "updates from the ground about the effectiveness and importance of this delegation," the Defense Ministry said in a statement.
Gantz said that Israel “will continue to reach out to any country in need, particularly to our American friends and our Jewish brothers and sisters in the diaspora,” and extended his condolences to the families who have lost loved ones and those injured and missing in the disaster.
He also thanked the members of the delegation “who carry out their mission to save lives and provide aid in such a noble manner.”