Death toll rises to 28 in Surfside building collapse

117 people still unaccounted for after tragedy
Surfside Collapse Site, July 5, 2021
Posted at 10:54 AM, Jul 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-05 19:26:49-04

SURFSIDE, Fla. — Officials said Monday afternoon that one more body was pulled from the deadly Surfside condo collapse, bringing the confirmed death toll to 28.

Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava made the announcement during a Monday afternoon news conference after demolition crews brought down the remaining portions of the structure overnight.

Two of the victims recovered Monday were identified as Ingrid Ainsworth, 66, and 68-year-old Tzvi Ainsworth.

The decision to demolish the remnants of the building came after concerns mounted that the damaged structure was at risk of falling, endangering the crews below and preventing them from operating in some areas.

"We're able to report that search-and-rescue team has been able to search all sections of the grid on the collapse following the building demolition, now that the entire area is safe to search," Levine Cara said. "And so the teams have now removed over 4.8 million pounds of concrete from the pile as they're searching through the evidentiary debris."

Death toll rises to 27 in Surfside building collapse

Parts of the remaining building shifted on Thursday, prompting a 15-hour suspension in the work.

Rescuers were given the all-clear not long after the 12-story high rise came tumbling down around 10:30 p.m. Sunday. The mayor said crews resumed search efforts by midnight.

Demolition crews brought down the rest of the building in a way that did not create a larger pile of debris on the existing search site.

"Only dust landed on the existing pile," Levine Cava said. "Bringing the building down in a controlled manner was critical to expanding our scope of search."

Now that the remaining portions of the Champlain Towers South building have been demolished, the mayor said crews are able to access debris that has not been previously investigated, calling it the focus of their efforts.

"This pile closest to the building was actually holding the building up," the mayor said. "We're looking for voids where someone may have been able to be inside."

Before the rest of the condo was imploded overnight, Levine Cava said crews diligently worked to make sure pets were not left inside the building.

Gov. Ron DeSantis holds briefing ahead of T.S. Elsa

"We took every action that we possibly could to search for any pets, any animals, in the building, prior to the demolition," Levine Cava said.

She said in the days since the collapse the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue team conducted multiple sweeps of the building in search of animals.

"In the areas of the building that were not accessible to the teams, they used ladders on high-lift cranes, and they placed live animal traps on the balconies," Levine Cava said. "We deployed drones with thermal imaging on numerous trips over the rubble pile and also standing in the tower."

Crews began clearing the new debris so rescuers could start making their way into parts of an underground garage of particular interest in the search for 117 people still unaccounted for.

The first portion of the Champlain Towers South building suddenly collapsed on June 24.