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Florida ends search for survivors of building collapse

July 8, 2021

Miami emergency workers said there was "zero chance" of survivors being found underneath the debris of the collapse building. So far, 86 people remain missing.

Rescue workers use a tarp for recovered remains at the site of the collapsed Champlain Towers South condo building, Monday, July 5, 2021 in Surfside, Florida.
Rescue teams extracted 54 bodies from the mostly steel and concrete rubble of the Champlain Towers South in Miami, FloridaImage: Lynne Sladky/AP Photo/picture alliance

Florida rescue workers gave up efforts for finding survivors in the rubble of the condominium tower which partially collapsed nearly two weeks ago, Miami-Dade County mayor Daniella Levine Cava said Wednesday.

"It is with deep profound sadness ... that we made the extremely difficult decision to transition from operation search and rescue to recovery," Levine Cava told reporters in Surfside, near Miami.

The crew, which extracted 54 bodies from the mostly steel and concrete rubble of the Champlain Towers South, will transition from search-and-rescue to a recovery operation.

"At this point, we have truly exhausted every option available to us in the search and rescue mission," the mayor said.

86 people still missing

The 12-story building abruptly caved in early on June 24 as dozens of residents slept inside.

The rescue team removed remains of 18 people on Wednesday alone, leaving 86 people still unaccounted for.

Levine Cava said investigators were working to verify if each of them had been in the building when it collapsed. Officials said there was the possibility that the some of those missing would be found elsewhere.

'Zero-chance' of life

Ray Jadallah, assistant chief of Miami-Dade Fire Rescue, told families of the victims that there was "zero chance" that anyone who was in the building would still be alive underneath the debris three weeks later.

Specialists teams from Israel and Mexico aided the search but no survivors have been found since the day of the collapse. No signs of life have been detected by sophisticated equipment or sniffer dogs.

Investigators have, so far, not been able to determine the cause of the collapse. But attention has been drawn to a 2018 report released by city officials which revealed fears of "major structural damage" in the complex.

Since the disaster, officials across South Florida have been ordered to review buildings for signs of structural weaknesses.

adi/msh (AFP, Reuters)