20 Confirmed dead in US building collapse, 128 still missing
Miami, Jul 2 (EFE).- The search for survivors continued Friday amid the rubble of a 12-story residential building north of Miami Beach that partially collapsed eight days ago, killing at least 20 people and leaving 128 others unaccounted for.
Two more fatalities were found late Thursday in the wreckage of the Champlain Towers South structure in Surfside, including the 7-year-old daughter of one of the firefighters assisting in the rescue effort.
While the recovery of two additional bodies brought the confirmed death toll to 20, Miami-Dade Daniella Levine Cava pointed to some “good news” in a reduction in the ranks of unaccounted-for people from 145 to 128 after police determined that several of those on the missing list were safe.
Authorities have been able to verify that 188 of the potential victims of the disaster that occurred in the wee hours of June 24 are alive and well.
“Our hearts and prayers are with the families affected by this horrific tragedy,” Miami Fire Rescue Chief Joseph Zahralban said Friday. “We can confirm that a member of our City of Miami Fire Department family has lost his 7-year-old daughter in the collapse.”
Miami’s Local 10 television reported that the team who found the firefighter’s daughter called him over from another part of the site.
A witness told Local 10 that the father wrapped the girl in his jacket and placed a small United States flag on the gurney on which she was carried away past an impromptu honor guard of first responders.
The search effort resumed toward evening Thursday after being suspended for 15 hours due to fears that the surviving section of the 40-year-old building might collapse.
Levine Cava said Friday that while county officials have met with engineers to discuss bringing down the rest of the structure through a controlled demolition, no action along those lines was imminent.
“They’re meeting regularly to look at exactly what will be the process, and we are going to move expeditiously … on decision-making, but it will take some time for the demolition to occur,” the mayor said.
Concerns about the stability of what’s left of Champlain Towers South have come to the fore as Hurricane Elsa enters the Caribbean on a path that could bring it close to South Florida.
During Friday’s press conference at the site, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said that the area could experience tropical-storm force winds as early as Sunday night.
“And so we’re actively monitoring the situation like we always would do with these storms, but given what we’re doing on this site, we’re also paying special attention to any impacts that could happen here in Northeast Miami-Dade County,” he said. EFE emi/dr