September 25, 2021

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Surfside Building Collapse Update: Death Toll Rises To 16 As Rescuers Continue Their Concerted Effort

Officials say at least 12 people are dead and 149 are missing after a 12-story residential building partially collapsed in Miami-Dade County, Florida, last week.

On Wednesday, a major search and rescue effort reached its seventh day, with teams cautiously combing through the pancaked mound of rubble in search of survivors.

The partial collapse occurred at the Champlain Towers South condominium in the small beachfront community of Surfside, some 6 miles north of Miami Beach, at around 1:15 a.m. local time last Thursday.

According to Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Assistant Chief Raide Jadallah, about 55 of the 136 units in the beachside complex were damaged.

125 individuals who were living or staying in the condominium at the time of the tragedy have been accounted for and are safe.

However, the figures are “extremely fluid” and “continue to fluctuate.” Officials previously included the number of people who had died in the total number of people who had been counted, but they are now separating the data.

During a news conference in Surfside on Tuesday evening, Levine Cava said, “We are continuing to make progress in our quest.”

Rescue teams evacuated the final surviving structure last week, and all resources have since been focused on the debris, according to Jadallah.

Source: Israel Defense Forces

Hundreds of first responders and volunteers have been searching for the wreckage around the clock for any survivors or human remains.

However, heavy rain and lightning storms have prompted them to take a break from their work on several occasions.

“There didn’t appear to be a good response to that,” Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett told reporters, referring to the topic of how long someone might remain under the rubble.

He maintained, however, that the search and rescue activities will continue uninterrupted.

“Nobody in this town has given up hope. Nobody is going to stop “During a news conference in Surfside on Tuesday afternoon, Burkett remarked. “We’re committed to rescuing everyone out of that wreckage.”

According to Levine Cava, crews have excavated a large trench through the pile to aid with their search.

According to Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Chief Alan Cominsky, they had transported more than 3 million pounds of concrete, which corresponds to over 850 cubic feet, as of Tuesday afternoon.

Meanwhile, according to Kevin Guthrie, head of the Florida Division of Emergency Management, dump trucks have begun transporting debris to a different location, and rescuers have “all the resources” they require.

According to Jadallah, crews have not yet reached the bottom of the mound, but cameras put within revealed holes and air pockets where individuals may be trapped.

According to Andy Alvarez, the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue deputy incident commander coordinating search and rescue efforts, more than 80 rescuers are on the pile at a time, each working 12-hour shifts, listening for noises and attempting to dig through the rubble.

Alvarez described the process as “frantic” and “painful” in an interview with ABC News on Monday.

Source: South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP

Because of the heat, humidity, and rain, the circumstances atop the pile are “poor” and “not ideal” for rescuers, according to Alvarez.

However, search and rescue operations are still ongoing 24 hours a day.

According to Alvarez, crews are employing a variety of tools and technology, including subsurface sonar devices that can identify victims and crane vehicles that can lift massive slabs of concrete from the pile.

Rescuers have also found the place to be hazardous.

According to Burkett, one portion had to be roped off Tuesday due to falling debris, and employees are no longer accessing the remaining building because it is considered insecure, according to Levine Cava.

Some of the first responders are members of Florida Task Force-1, a Miami-Dade Fire Rescue urban search and rescue team that is part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s National Urban Search and Rescue Response System and has been deployed to disasters across the country and around the world.

Source: Israel Defense Forces

In Surfside, search and rescue crews from Israel and Mexico have joined the mission.

Although officials have expressed hope that additional individuals may be found alive, no survivors have been located in the wreckage of the building since it partially fell the morning it happened.

Bodies, on the other hand, have been discovered all around the site, which has been organized into grids by workers, according to Cominsky.

Rescuers with specially trained canines are still “constantly” “looking for lives” amid the rubble, according to the fire chief.

Families of the missing have been requested to give DNA samples as well as distinctive features of their loved ones, such as tattoos and scars, to aid in the identification of those recovered in the debris.

According to a White House statement, President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden will fly to Surfside on Thursday.

In the aftermath of the partial building collapse, the president issued an emergency declaration in Florida and ordered federal aid to support state and local response operations.

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image sources

  • 1: Israel Defense Forces
  • 3: South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP
  • 2: Israel Defense Forces
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