The death toll at a collapsed condo high-rise has risen to 36 with rescuers losing hope they will discover additional survivors. No one has been rescued alive since the first hours after the collapse, which occurred June 24, when most of the building’s residents were asleep.
Crews continue to search the debris for two weeks after the collapse in wind and rain from tropical storm Elsa moves up the western coast of Florida. The Miami-Dade County Fire Rescue Department released video showing workers carrying power saws and other tools while others dig by hand through 12 stories of rubble.
Search-and-rescue workers continued to look for open spaces where people might be found alive nearly two weeks after the disaster struck at the Champlain Towers South building in Surfside. More than 100 people are still missing and presumed dead.
“We’re actively searching as aggressively as we can,” Miami-Dade County Fire Chief Alan Cominsky said at a news conference. But he added: “Unfortunately, we are not seeing anything positive. The key things—void spaces, living spaces—we’re not seeing anything like that.”
Reporters got their closest look at the site in the pouring rain Tuesday, though it was limited to the portion of the building that demolition workers tore down Sunday after the initial collapse left it standing but dangerously unstable. A pile of shattered concrete and twisted steel stood about 30 feet tall, topped by a couple of air conditioning units, and spanned roughly half the length of a football field. A pair of backhoes pulled rubble off the pile, which blocked any view of the search effort.
While officials still call the efforts a search-and-rescue operation, Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said families of those still missing are preparing for news of “tragic loss.” She said President Joe Biden, who visited the area last week, called Tuesday to offer his continued support.
“I think everybody will be ready when it’s time to move to the next phase,” said Levine Cava, who stressed that crews would use the same care as they go through the rubble even after their focus shifts from searching for survivors to recovering the dead.