90 deaths confirmed in Florida condominium collapse


FILE – A member of the Israeli search and rescue team, left, salutes in front of the rubble that was once the South Champlain Towers during a prayer ceremony, Wednesday, July 7, 2021, in Surfside, Fla. The Israeli search and rescue team, which arrived in South Florida shortly after Champlain Towers South collapsed last month, are returning home after an emotional start to Surfside. The team planned to leave Florida on Sunday July 11. In a brief ceremony Saturday night, Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava thanked the battalion for their “relentless dedication.” (Jose A Iglesias / Miami Herald via AP)

SURFSIDE, Fla. (AP) – Authorities said on Sunday they were making progress in a thorough search for the victims of the deadly building collapse in Florida last month.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said on Sunday that 90 deaths had been confirmed in the 12-story Champlain Towers South collapse in Surfside, up from 86 the day before.

Among them, 71 bodies have been identified and their families have been notified, she said. Some 31 people are still missing.

Levine Cava also said relentless search amid the rubble recovered more than 14 million pounds of concrete and debris.

Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett noted not only the speed of the salvage work, but also the care rescuers take in peeling through layers of rubble in the hopes of retrieving not only those whose lives have been lost, but also goods that could be meaningful to loved ones. they left behind.

“The work is so delicate that we even find bottles of wine intact,” Burkett said.

In recognition of the rescuers from abroad, Levine Cava said she gave the keys to the county to the Israeli commander and colonel – her first two-handed as mayor. An Israeli search and rescue team arrived in South Florida shortly after the building collapsed on June 24. The team returned home on Sunday after an emotional start at Surfside.

In a brief ceremony Saturday night, Levine Cava thanked the battalion for their “unwavering dedication.” Members of the task forces who have searched the site 24 hours a day since the collapse lined up on both sides of the street, shaking hands and bidding farewell to the Israeli team.

While authorities have concluded that there is “no chance of life” in the remaining rubble, pressure remains for search teams to find casualties so that families can rest their loved ones. Miami-Dade County Fire Chief Alan Cominsky said it was not possible to determine when the search and recovery efforts would end.

“It’s a slow process,” he said.

The Israeli team joined with other US task forces to assist the Miami and Miami-Dade County teams, working in 12-hour shifts. They searched through the intense South Florida summer heat and pouring rain, only stopping when lightning was spotted nearby. They also halted operations as officials planned to implode the still standing portion of the condo tower on July 4.

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 the families of the missing, many of whom were Jewish, to build a room-by-room model showing where people would have slept during the pre-dawn collapse.

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