, Fla. (AP) — Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava
announced Saturday that two more bodies were discovered in the rubble of a collapsed condo building, bringing the total number of confirmed dead to 24, with 124 people
Meanwhile, a top Miami-Dade fire
official informed family
members of missing people in the rubble that demolition workers planned to demolish the rest of the building on Sunday.
Concerns have grown in the last week that the damaged structure will collapse on its own, endangering the crews below and complicating the search for victims.
During a morning briefing, Fire Rescue Assistant Fire Chief Raide Jadallah assured family members that the building would be demolished "as soon as possible, first thing tomorrow."
However, he warned that there "may be some hiccups." A follow-up meeting will be held in the afternoon to finalize details of the demolition, which could be a risky operation as experts enter the building to bore into the structure to install explosives.
Concerns that the still-standing portion might collapse have limited the search in areas near it, and shifts detected by monitors early Thursday prompted a 15-hour suspension of the entire search until engineers determined the site was safe to resume.
Jadallah stated that the demolished building's remnants would be removed immediately, giving rescuers access for the first time to parts of the garage area, which is a focus of the search, giving officials a clearer picture of the voids that may exist in the rubble and could possibly harbor survivors.
No one has been rescued since the first hours following the June 24 collapse, and the approach of Hurricane Elsa from the Caribbean
Sea raises concerns that strong winds in South Florida
by late Sunday or early Monday could further destabilize the towers' standing portion.
The confirmed death toll
from the June 24 condominium building collapse
was 22 early Saturday, with the number of missing reduced from 145 to 126 after duplicate names were removed and some residents reported missing turned up safe.
The demolition of the building would temporarily halt search operations, which officials hope will not last long. Some families have asked to be allowed to return to the building to retrieve personal belongings, but will not be permitted to do so.
During a press conference on Saturday, Gov. Ron DeSantis
emphasized the importance of demolishing the structure in a controlled manner ahead of the storm's arrival.
“We have a building here in Surfside that is tottering, it is structurally unsound,” the governor
said, adding that removing the building would protect the search and rescue
He also declared a state of emergency in anticipation of the storm's arrival early next week.
This report was contributed to by Associated Press
reporters Bobby Caina Calvan in Tallahassee, Terry Spencer in Surfside, Florida, Mike Schneider in Orlando
, Florida, and Denise Lavoie in Richmond, Virginia