, Fla. (AP) — Exhausted crews neared the end of their search for victims of a Miami-area condominium tower collapse
Tuesday, with the death toll
reaching 95 and only a few people
At a news conference
, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava
stated that the number of people considered missing has decreased as authorities work
to identify everyone associated with the building. The mayor stated that 14 people are still unaccounted for, including 10 victims whose bodies have been recovered but not yet identified — potentially leaving four more victims to be found.
“It’s a scientific, methodical process to identify human remains, and as we’ve said, this work is becoming more difficult with the passage of time
,” Levine Cava said, adding that the situation is “truly fluid.”
The mayor stated that 12 of the 14 people considered missing are the subject of missing persons reports, and detectives are attempting to confirm information about the other two.
Levine Cava, the mayor, said that 20 days after the disaster, crews had removed 18 million pounds (8 million kilograms) of rubble from the site, and that search crews were taking great care to identify and preserve any personal property recovered.
“They have given of their heart and soul,” Levine Cava said of the crews who have been working around the clock for nearly three weeks, adding, “We are totally walking among superheroes.”
Experts will need much more time to figure out what caused the 12-story Champlain Towers South
condominium to collapse into a tangled heap of concrete and steel on June 24. The building was scheduled for a four-decade recertification review at the time of the collapse.
Engineers and others investigating the cause of the collapse are identifying key pieces of the 40-year-old building to figure out what happened, according to Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett
“We’re looking at how the building aligns with the plans,” he explained.
An engineer hired by the town of Surfside, a team from the National Institute of Standards and Technology, experts hired by lawyers representing families, and others are all involved in the search for answers.
will look into what decisions were made by government building officials and the condominium board, which was aware of serious structural problems with the tower as early as fall 2018. Some residents were hesitant to pay assessments in the tens of thousands of dollars for the repairs, which led to acrimonious board meetings.
There is also concern about the stability of Champlain Towers North, a nearly identical building next door built at the same time and by the same developer as its doomed sister structure, which has yet to be ordered to evacuate.
“If any changes were required,” Levine Cava said of the north tower.
Burkett said that discussions with victims' families about what to do with the collapse site are ongoing. Some residents who escaped the disaster want the tower rebuilt so they can return home, while others want a memorial
“We want the families to tell us what they want to see,” Burkett said, adding, “I’m excited to have those discussions.”
Curt Anderson in St. Petersburg and Freida Frisaro in Fort Lauderdale
of the Associated Press