Miami condo collapse death toll hits 64 as rescue efforts end
Rescue efforts at the site of the Champlain Towers South collapse in Surfside, Florida, officially ended late on Wednesday night as officials have said there is no chance of life in the rubble.
More victims were recovered on Thursday, bringing the death toll by the early evening to 64 and the number of those still unaccounted for down to 76. Of those who were recovered, 35 have been identified.
Some families of those who have lost loved ones were taken to the site of the wreckage in the afternoon while recovery crews paused their work in order to pay their respects.
Thursday marked two weeks since the building collapsed in the early morning of 24 June. “Over the last 14 days, you all know our search and rescue teams … have been digging through this collapse. They’ve used every possible strategy and every piece of technology available to them to find people in the rubble,” the Miami-Dade mayor, Daniella Levine Cava, said on Wednesday, adding that rescuers have removed more than 7m pounds of concrete and debris from the mound.
On Wednesday, the rescue teams held a moment of silence in honor of the victims of the collapse to mark the transition of the rescue mission into recovery efforts.
In tribute to lives lost, our rescue teams held a moment of silence & prayer near the Surfside building collapse. With heavy hearts, we begin search & recovery efforts, and will continue to give our all as our commitment still remains to reunite families with their loved ones. pic.twitter.com/FJ7GKWXhXn— Miami-Dade Fire Rescue (@MiamiDadeFire) July 8, 2021
The Florida state attorney’s office announced on Wednesday that a grand jury in Miami-Dade had agreed to investigate building safety policies afrer a request from the state attorney, Katherine Fernandez Rundle, according to the Miami Herald. The grand jury will explore “recommendations to prevent such a disaster from occurring again, not just in Surfside”, Fernandez Rundle said in a statement. The grand jury will also investigate the cause of the collapse.
A former Florida state representative told NBC News that condos were once required by law to plan for repairs, but the law was repealed in 2010 after pushback from real estate lawyers and property managers. Recent reports have revealed infighting between condo residents at Champlain Towers South over the cost and scope of necessary repairs halted work that needed to be done on the building.
Town officials have started to investigate the neighboring Champlain Towers North, the sister building of the condo that collapsed that was built by the same developer and around the same time, for any clues as to why the condo fell. Engineers have started using ground-penetrating radars to inspect the structure of the building, whose exterior looks identical to its sister building.
“Given that we do not know why the first building fell down, we have significant concerns about that building and the residents in there,” the Surfside mayor, Charles Burkett, said on Tuesday. Residents of the building have been given the option to relocate if they do not feel safe inside the condo.