Home Posts The Search In Florida Is Expected To Last Several Weeks, With 90 People Killed.
The Search In Florida Is Expected To Last Several Weeks, With 90 People Killed.

The Search In Florida Is Expected To Last Several Weeks, With 90 People Killed.

SURFSIDE, Fla. (AP) — Authorities searching for victims of a deadly Florida collapse said Sunday that they hope to finish their laborious work in the coming weeks, as a team of Israeli first responders left the scene.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said 90 people were killed in last month's collapse of the 12-story Champlain Towers South in Surfside, up from 86 the day before, with 71 bodies identified and families notified. Thirty people are still missing, she said.

Three young children were recently identified, according to the Miami-Dade Police Department.

Crews continued to search the remaining pile of rubble, peeling layer after layer of debris in search of bodies, and recovered more than 14 million pounds (6.4 million kilograms) of concrete and debris, according to Levine Cava.

Miami-Dade Fire Chief Alan Cominsky said it was unclear when the recovery efforts would be completed because it was unclear when the final body would be discovered.

Officials hoped to complete the recovery phase in three weeks when it began on Wednesday, but in an interview Sunday morning near the site, Cominsky said it could now be as little as two weeks based on the current pace of work.

“We were looking at a 14-day to 21-day timeframe,” he said, adding that the timeline was still on a “sliding scale.”

Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett emphasized the care that rescue workers are taking in peeling back layers of rubble in the hopes of recovering not only bodies but also victims' belongings, saying that the work is so delicate that crews have discovered unbroken wine bottles among the rubble.

“It doesn’t get any easier, and finding victims, that experience doesn’t change for our search and rescue folks,” he said, adding, “It takes a toll, but you’ve got to admire the heart that they’re putting into this, and we’re very grateful.”

On Saturday night, members of the community walked down Collins Avenue, the city's main thoroughfare, to honor the crews who had traveled from across the country — and as far away as Israel and Mexico — to assist in the rescue, and now recovery, effort. The Israeli search and rescue team arrived in South Florida shortly after the building collapsed on June 24 and was returning home Sunday.

Members of the crews that have been searching the site 24 hours a day since the collapse gathered on both sides of the street, shaking hands and saying goodbye to the Israeli team.

The Israeli team worked in 12-hour shifts with other task forces from around the country to assist first responders from Miami and Miami-Dade County, searching through South Florida's intense summer heat and pouring rain, pausing only when lightning was spotted nearby. They also paused operations as officials made plans to implode the remaining portion of the condo tower.

The Israeli team used the building's blueprints to create detailed 3D images of the disaster site to aid in the search, and they also gathered information from families of the missing, many of whom were Jewish, to build a room-by-room model laying out where people would have been sleeping during the pre-dawn collapse.

On Saturday night, Levina Cava described the memorial walk as a "beautiful moment," and she handed over the keys to the county to an Israeli commander and a colonel — her first two as mayor.

According to Cominsky, four teams from Florida, Indiana, and Pennsylvania are still working on the recovery, while teams from Virginia, New Jersey, and Ohio are preparing to leave.

“I can’t give you an exact date, but we’re doing everything we can — everything possible — until we feel we’ve delayered every floor,” the fire chief said.

Frisaro was in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, when he filed this report.

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