Home Business Four more victims found in the rubble of the Florida condo collapse, bringing the death toll to 32

Four more victims found in the rubble of the Florida condo collapse, bringing the death toll to 32

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Team of rescue workers are seen during a rescue operation of the Champlain Tower in Surfside, Florida, U.S., on July 05, 2021.

Eva Marie Uzcategui | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

The discovery of four more victims in the rubble of a collapsed condominium building raised the death toll to 32, a fire official said Tuesday as a ramped-up search effort faced new threats from severe weather with Tropical Storm Elsa lashing Florida on a path that would mostly bypass the collapse site.

Miami-Dade Assistant Fire Chief Raide Jadallah announced the new death county to family members during a closed-door morning briefing Tuesday, according to video posted on social media. He said rescuers have also been locating more human remains.

Jadallah said there was a two-hour delay early Tuesday as a result of lightning. He said workers have removed 5.5 million pounds of debris from the pile.

At the site of the collapsed building Tuesday morning, power saws and backhoes could be heard as workers in yellow helmets and blue jumpsuits sifted through the rubble for a 13th day. Stiff winds of 20 mph (32 kph) with stronger gusts blew through the area as gray clouds from Elsa’s outer bands swirled above.

Bands of rain were expected in Surfside as Elsa strengthened with the potential to become a hurricane again before making landfall somewhere between Tampa Bay and Florida’s Big Bend and crossing northern Florida.

After a brief stop to demolish the standing debris, Search and Rescue personnel continue working in the rubble pile of the partially collapsed 12-story Champlain Towers South condo on July 5, 2021 in Surfside, Florida.

Giorgio Viera | AFP | Getty Images

The search crews can work through rain, but lightning from unrelated thunderstorms have forced them to pause at times, and a garage area in the rubble has filled with water, officials said.

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.

A man is seen at the Surfside wall of hope & memorial in Surfside, Florida, U.S., on July 05, 2021.

Eva Marie Uzcategui | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

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.

No one has been rescued alive since the first hours after the collapse, but rescuers were still holding out hope of reuniting loved ones.

“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.


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