SURFSIDE, Fla. — It was just after 1 a.m. on June 24, 2021, when Champlain Towers South failed, crashing down early on a Thursday morning. Rescuers immediately began searching for survivors in the rubble.
"We are working around the clock, and we have hope," Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said in the hours after the collapse.
Family and friends of victims waited and hoped for any news. The 98 victims were from 14 countries. Search-and-rescue teams from as far away as Mexico and Israel flew in to help.
"Miracles happen every day and you know what? I still know there's somebody there in the next few days coming out of that rubble," a friend of the victim told WPTV outside the family reunification center.
Crews worked 12-hour shifts, sifting through the rubble, battling fires and rains. Just over a week after the collapse, the decision was made to bring down the other side of the condo.
The demolition came the night of July 4. Twenty minutes later, crews were once again looking for victims and survivors.
Just three days after that, the mission transitioned from search-and-rescue to search-and-recovery.
"We made the extremely difficult decision to transition from operation search-and-rescue to recovery," Levine Cava said during one of her daily briefings.
More than a month after the collapse, the 98th and final victim was identified. It was around the same time that crews cleared the final rubble from the collapse site.
In all, 22 million pounds of debris were moved to an undisclosed facility so investigators could use it to try and determine a cause of the collapse. The death toll makes the collapse one of the deadliest building collapses ever.
In May, survivors and families of the victims reached a tentative settlement over the collapse. A judge gave final approval Thursday, meaning the plaintiffs will split more than $1 billion.
On May 24, the site was auctioned for $120 million to a developer from Dubai. The plans for the site include luxury condominiums.
A public memorial will be held on the anniversary of the collapse at the site of the Champlain Towers South. Other private events are planned for relatives of the victims.