On Wednesday, the hunt for victims of a Miami-area high-rise condominium collapse entered its 14th day, with the death toll at three dozen, more than 100 others still missing, and authorities sounding bleaker.
On Tuesday, crews dug through pulverized concrete at the site of the former Champlain Towers South building in Surfside, filling buckets that were then transferred down a line to be emptied and returned.
The footage, released by the Miami-Dade County Fire Rescue Department, provided an up-close view at the search as eight additional deaths were revealed – the most in a single day since the search started.
It also occurred as rain and wind from Hurricane Elsa, which was on pace to make landfall far across the state, hampered the attempt.
Authorities said their goal was still oriented on finding individuals alive, but they sounded more gloomy as searchers uncovered no new signs of survivors.
At a news conference Tuesday evening, the county’s police director, Freddy Ramirez, stated, “Right now, we’re in search and rescue mode. Our major aim right now is to offer closure to the families,” he continued.
Since the initial hours after the building fell on June 24, when many of its tenants were sleeping, no one has been recovered from the site.
According to Alan Cominsky, the county’s fire chief, searchers were still seeking for any open places amid the heaps of wreckage where other survivors may be located.
He remarked, “Unfortunately, we are not seeing anything positive.”
Mayor Daniella Levine Cava of Miami-Dade said the relatives of the missing were expecting word of “tragic loss.” President Joe Biden, who was in the region last week, contacted her on Tuesday to express his continuing support, she added.
“I believe that when it comes time to go on to the next step, everyone will be ready,” she added.
Reporters had their first glimpse at the scene on Tuesday, but it was confined to the section of the structure that workmen demolished Sunday after the initial collapse left it standing but extremely unstable.
A 30-foot (9-meter) high pile of shattered concrete and twisted steel covered approximately half the length of a football field. Backhoes removed material from the mound, blocking any view of the search activity.
Elsa’s severe weather hampered search operations to some extent.
Assistant Fire Chief Raide Jadallah stated that lightning prompted rescuers to take a two-hour break early Tuesday.
Winds of 20 miles per hour (32 kilometers per hour) with greater gusts hindered efforts to transport heavy debris with cranes, according to authorities.
As Elsa intensified along its course to a projected landfall somewhere between Tampa Bay and Florida’s Big Bend, the storm’s worst winds and rain would miss Surfside and adjacent Miami.
According to Cominsky, crews have cleared 124 tons (112 metric tons) of debris from the site.
According to authorities, the rubble was being processed and kept in a warehouse as possible evidence in the inquiry into why the building fell.
Since the unstable remaining section of the structure was removed, workers have been able to explore a larger area.
- Champlain Towers: AP