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At least 94 dead in Surfside condo collapse as recovery operation continues

'The process of making identifications has become more difficult,' Miami-Dade County mayor says
Building Collapse Legal Fallout
Posted at 9:39 AM, Jul 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-12 11:09:55-04

SURFSIDE, Fla. — Nearly three weeks after the deadly and devastating collapse of a Surfside condominium building, authorities on Monday said it's getting more difficult to identify the remains of victims as time goes on.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said four additional bodies were found in the rubble since Sunday, bringing the death toll to 94. Of those, 83 victims have been identified.

Levine Cava said 22 people are potentially missing, and 222 are accounted for following the June 24 collapse of the Champlain Towers South condominium building.

"The process of making identifications has become more difficult as time goes on. And the recovery at this point is yielding human remains," Levine Cava said. "The process is very methodical and careful and it does take time."

The mayor added that officials are relying heavily on the Medical Examiner's Office for their technical and scientific processes to identify victims.

"There may be people who are deceased who remain on the unaccounted list until a positive ID has been made," Levine Cava said.

Officials said they're estimating that all of the victims will eventually be pulled from the rubble over the next 14 to 21 days. The unrelenting search has resulted in the removal of more than 14 million pounds of concrete and debris.

"We are making great progress on the pile," Levine Cava said. "We are continuing to de-layer and access lower portions of the building."

Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett added that first responders are carefully and consistently going through the debris pile, pulling intact wine bottles and artwork from the wreckage.

"The search continues until everyone trapped in the debris is pulled out," Burkett said. "It's obvious that this has become much more than a collapsed building site. It is a holy site."

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At least 94 dead in Surfside condo collapse

A Miami-Dade County commissioner who helped local officials in Surfside following the collapse announced on Sunday that he and his chief of staff have tested positive for COVID-19, despite both being vaccinated against the virus.

Commission Chairman Jose "Pepe" Diaz and Isidoro Lopez came down with flu-like symptoms earlier in the day and later tested positive.

Levine Cava said that out of an abundance of caution, anyone who was recently in close contact with Diaz and Lopez were tested for COVID-19 using both rapid and PCR tests. All of those results have come back negative.

Last week, Florida health officials reported an increase in COVID-19 cases and a higher positive test rate compared with other recent weeks.

State and local officials on Monday announced they've launched a new website, Surfside Assistance, to help Champlain Towers residents, survivors, and family members who have unmet needs.

"At the federal, state, and local levels, we are partnering with the private sector, non-profit partners that have come together to ensure that survivors, families, and first responders receive much-needed support to persevere in the aftermath of this terrible tragedy," said Florida Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez.

To access the Surfside Assistance website, click here.

Investigators are seeking the assistance of the community in obtaining information from anyone who witnessed the Surfside building collapse. Anyone who has videos or photos is asked to call the Surfside Collapse Witness Tip Line at 305-428-4417 from 8:00 a.m. - 1:00 a.m.

A family information and reunification center continues to operate at the Surfside Recreation Center, located at 9301 Collins Avenue, for people who are unable to locate their relatives who live in the building.

You can open a Missing Person Report by clicking here or calling 833-930-3701.

If you live at the Champlain Towers property or you know a person who lives there who has been found safe, click here.

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