Friday, October 22, 2021

14 more bodies are recovered, the death toll rises to 78

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Search and rescue teams search for possible survivors and recover remains in the collapsed 12-story Champlain Towers South condo building on July 7, 2021 in Surfside, Florida. Authorities say the death toll rose to 36 today, with 109 still missing.

Joe Raedle | fake images

Search teams have recovered 14 more bodies from the rubble of the collapsed condo building in Surfside, Florida, raising the death toll to at least 78 people as of Friday morning, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella said. Levine Cava, during a press conference.

Levine Cava said 62 people are still missing and detectives are working to verify that every individual listed as missing was actually in Champlain Towers South when it collapsed more than two weeks ago.

“The magnitude of this tragedy is growing, each and every day. It is a painful hole at the center of this united family here in Surfside, a beautiful little close-knit community,” said Levine Cava.

“We know that the hard work of rebuilding is just beginning, for many of these families, and we are committed to staying with them every step of the way.”

The painstaking search shifted from a rescue effort to a recovery operation on Wednesday after authorities decided there was little hope of finding people alive in the rubble. But authorities promised to continue searching for victims until they have cleared all debris from the site, according to Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett.

Burkett praised the search teams for their work, noting that the pile of debris that was initially four to five stories high is now close to ground level.

The National Institute of Technology, or NIST, is making “very significant progress” with its research into the cause of the collapse, Levine Cava added. NIST teams have collected more than 200 pieces of evidence, which have been deployed to a physics measurement lab in Washington to help with analysis. NIST is also using lidar scanners, a tool that measures the distance of an object on the earth’s surface using light, and drones on the probe.

Levine Cava said Thursday that the public also has “a very important role to play in this investigation.” He urged the public to submit photos or videos related to the collapse to the NIST website.

Champlain Towers North, the identical sister property to the collapsed condo building, is also being evaluated, Burkett said. Engineers and authorities are using ground penetrating radars and taking concrete samples to determine the salt content and strength of the structure.

Meanwhile, alternative living arrangements have been made for residents of the sister property who wanted to evacuate.

Laura Solla cries while placing flowers near the memorial site for the victims of the collapse of the 12-story Champlain Towers South condominium building on July 8, 2021 in Surfside, Florida.

Anna Moneymaker | fake images

The exact cause of the Champlain Towers South collapse is unknown.

Recent evidence points to structural failures in the building long before the collapse, such as a 2018 report revealing that the 40-year-old building had waterproofing issues under the pool and cracks in the underground parking lot.

Experts have also said that the repeal of a Florida law in 2010, which required condo buildings to plan repairs, may have contributed to the collapse.

Various resources are being provided to families and individuals affected by the collapse. The Family Assistance Center continues to offer mental health counseling, housing and financial assistance, among other critical services.

Authorities announced Thursday that the center has cared for nearly 200 families.

Levine Cava also said Thursday that rescue teams are collecting and cataloging personal items found in the rubble of the condo building, including photos, technological devices, documents and jewelry. Authorities are developing a process for families and survivors to claim lost belongings that have been found.

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