Death toll rises to 9 in Surfside building collapse

Mayor says 134 accounted for, 152 people remain missing
Surfside building collapse aerial view, June 25, 2021
Posted at 9:40 AM, Jun 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-27 23:16:46-04

SURFSIDE, Fla. — As search-and-rescue efforts continue, Miami-Dade County's mayor has confirmed that nine people are dead in the Surfside condominium collapse that happened early Thursday. A total of 134 people have been accounted for and 152 people remain missing at the site.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said Sunday between six and eight squads are searching through the rubble for survivors at any given time, with hundreds of workers on standby to rotate into the search to relieve others.

A trench 20 feet wide, 40 feet deep and 125 feet long has been dug along the base of the rubble to assist in the search and to extinguish fires within the pile.

"I could not be prouder of the work of these men and women and dogs, who are all part of this operation -- their bravery, their selflessness, their total dedication to this mission," Levine Cava said. "These people live to save lives."

Four additional bodies, as well as other human remains, were recovered over Saturday night into Sunday morning.

Levine Cava said Sunday's improved weather conditions has "allowed the search-and-rescue effort to move forward without some of the previous challenges that we had faced."

One victim died in a hospital. That person's next of kin has been notified.

Levine Cava said Sunday evening that four additional victims have been identified.

Miami-Dade police later released the identities of three victims found Saturday and one found Sunday.

The mayor said family members of the victims were allowed to privately visit the site Sunday.

"This was something that many of the family members had requested," Levine Cava said.

As many are left wondering what caused the partial collapse of the 40-year-old Champlain Towers South, Gov. Ron DeSantis said the state is committed to getting answers, although the priority remains on rescuing any potential survivors.

Gov. DeSantis discusses investigating the reasons why the Surfside condominium collapsed

"South Florida has some of the most stringent building codes in the country, and so I have a lot of confidence that what's being built in the here and now are being done very, very well," DeSantis said.

DeSantis said it's "important that we get a definitive explanation" to ensure that something like this never happens again.