Anna Moneymaker / Getty Images
The death toll in the condo building collapse in Surfside, Florida, increased to 64 Thursday after more deceased victims will recover among the rubble of the Champlain Towers South condominium.
#UPDATE 68: We have identified five additional victims that sadly and unexpectedly lost their lives in the tragic Surfside building collapse. Please keep their families and loved ones in your prayers. pic.twitter.com/QbvdEfQdt2
— Miami-Dade Police (@MiamiDadePD) July 8, 2021
40 of the deceased victims have been identified and the whereabouts of 76 people are still unknownsaid Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava at a news conference.
The teams worked through the night looking for victims and they stopped around 1:20 a.m. to mark two weeks since the building collapsed in the middle of the night.
Levine Cava said that Thursday a minute of silence was held with the lifeguards to “honor the victims and their families.”
Searchers at the site of a collapsed condo tower in Surfside, Florida, paused their work on Thursday to mark two weeks since the collapse. Crews have abandoned the search for survivors with 80 people still classified as potentially missing. https://t.co/tr0p7P12yp pic.twitter.com/aQaFEJv6WT
— The New York Times (@nytimes) July 8, 2021
Work has now moved from rescue to recovery and continues Thursday with full speed and urgency, Levine Cava said.
“We are working 24 hours a day to recover the victims and bring closure to families as quickly as possible,” he said.
#MDFR # FLTF1 along with local and federal task forces have begun search and recovery efforts at the Champlain Towers building collapse in Surfside. Task force teams have been delayering the remaining rubble and heavier equipment is being utilized to assist in the process. pic.twitter.com/dvAsZoKk5V
— Miami-Dade Fire Rescue (@MiamiDadeFire) July 8, 2021
“All we find are small pieces, crushed and pulverized”
Searches for the past two weeks have been targeted, not random, Christopher Valerian said, medical manager for New Jersey Task Force One, an urban search and rescue team that was deployed to the site of the collapse, a CBSN.
“Maybe there was a K-9 unit that had located a potential victim or maybe you see flies circling, or maybe, you see remnants of a bedroom where there was, you know, bedding or even a mattress or something.” Valerian said. Thursday on CBSN. “Once you identify those locations, you will go in and start digging, literally by hand, cutting concrete with machines as needed and looking for victims,” he said.
Valerian said that since there are several layers of the building, large machinery has helped remove large debris from the road before teams, divided into groups of six, get to their knees and begin digging for survivors.
However, no one has been found alive since immediately after the collapse.
The Surfside collapse site is not typical, Valerian said.
“Usually in a building collapse like this, you’ll find what we call empty spaces, you know, spaces that are created by objects that stop debris from falling on your head, and that’s where you find victims,” he said. “In this particular case, and I’m not a structural engineer, however, the way it was explained to me is that the way the building collapsed and the pressure from the upper floors created so much downward force that those empty spaces Normal where the survivors would be located simply do not exist. “
Valerian said that the lack of large appliances seen on the site it is another indicator of how powerful the collapse was.
“I’ve said to myself, ‘Where are all the appliances? Where are the refrigerators, the stoves, the ovens? ‘”Valerian said. “We are just not finding large objects. All we find are small, crushed and pulverized pieces of metal, concrete and steel, so the force to which this building fell is incredible, and I think that’s part of the problem with not being able to find survivors. ”
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.