, Fla. (AP) — Officials in charge of the search for survivors at the site of the Florida condominium collapse
were increasingly pessimistic Tuesday, saying they had found no new signs of life in the rubble and that the death toll
had risen to 36.
Crews in yellow helmets and blue jumpsuits searched the debris for the 13th day, hampered by wind and rain
from Tropical Storm Elsa
's outer bands. Video released
by the Miami-Dade County Fire Rescue Department
showed workers lugging pickaxes and power saws through piles of concrete rubble barbed with snapped steel rebar.
Nearly two weeks after the disaster at the Champlain Towers South
building in Surfside, search-and-rescue workers were still looking for open spaces where people
might be found alive.
“We’re actively searching as aggressively as we can,” Miami-Dade County Fire Chief Alan Cominsky
said at a press conference, adding, “Unfortunately, we’re not seeing anything positive. The key things — void spaces, living spaces — we’re not seeing anything like that.”
While officials continue to refer to the efforts as a search and rescue
operation, Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava
said families of those still missing are bracing for “tragic loss.”
“I think everybody will be ready when it comes time to move to the next phase,” said Levine Cava, emphasizing that crews will proceed with caution even after their focus shifts from searching for survivors to recovering the dead.
“Really, you won’t notice a difference,” she said, adding that “we will carefully search for bodies and belongings, as well as catalog and deal
with any remains that we find.”
No one has been found alive since the first hours after the collapse, which occurred early on June 24, when many of the building's residents were sleeping.
Officials announced Tuesday that teams had recovered eight more bodies, the most in a single day since the collapse, and that more than 100 people were still missing.
from Elsa threatened to impede search efforts, forcing rescuers to pause their work for two hours early Tuesday, according to Miami-Dade Assistant Fire Chief Raide Jadallah
, and stiff winds of 20 mph (32 kph) with stronger gusts hampered efforts to move heavy debris with cranes, officials said.
The storm's strongest winds and rain, however, were expected to bypass Surfside and neighboring Miami as Elsa strengthened before making landfall somewhere between Tampa Bay and Florida's Big Bend on a path across northern Florida
“Active search and rescue continued throughout the night, and these teams have continued searching despite extremely adverse and challenging conditions,” Levine Cava said.
According to Cominsky, crews removed 124 tons (112 metric tons) of debris from the site.
Workers have been freed to search a larger area since the unstable remaining portion of the condo building was demolished on Sunday amid fears that the structure would collapse, according to officials. The demolition
allowed rescuers access to previously closed-off spaces, including bedrooms where people were believed to be sleeping at the time of the disaster.
This story was contributed to by Associated Press
writers Adriana Gomez Licon in Miami, Freida Frisaro in Fort Lauderdale
, Florida, Bobby Caina Calvan in Tallahassee, Florida, Cody Jackson
in Surfside, Florida, and Russ Bynum in Savannah, Georgia