The hope of finding survivors under the rubble of the partially collapsed building in Miami is dashed. In the last information session this Sunday, local authorities have informed relatives that the death toll rises to nine – the same as in the morning – and 152 disappeared, slightly lower than the figure known on Friday. For the first time since the collapse of the residential tower early Thursday, those awaiting news about their close friends were able to visit the disaster area in Surfase. The firefighters decided to take them to see the progress that has been made in the almost five days of search and rescue and to try to appease their anguish.
About 350 rescuers are working to remove debris from the 55 destroyed homes. Aided by dogs, ultrasounds, microphones and drones, emergency teams search for human material that allows them to identify the missing. “Everyone who is needed is on site, and they are doing the work, and we continue our efforts to find people alive,” said Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava this morning, adding that authorities are having talks. “Very frank” with family members. This morning an Israeli emergency team arrived and one from Mexico is scheduled to join tomorrow.
“The problem is not resources, but luck,” Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett has said on several occasions. As is common at this time of year in Miami, there have been several thunderstorms that have forced search work to stop momentarily to avoid putting rescuers at risk. Until this Saturday there were also a series of fires that, due to the debris, could not identify their origin. The smoke made it difficult for emergency crews to see and breathe. “The debris falls on them as they do their work. We have structural engineers on site to make sure they don’t get injured, ”explained Cava.
The Grand Beach Hotel is the focus of uncertainty. Twice a day, police officers, rescuers and firefighters come to the site turned into a family reunification center to update loved ones of the victims. But the news does not arrive and the desperation of those who wait for new information is accentuated. In order to calm the anguish as much as possible, the relatives were transferred at noon from the hotel to another building in front of the area of the collapse. Located on balconies, they were able to observe the pile of rubble and the work of rescuers.
A Uruguayan businesswoman broke down in an area to which the press had no access. When they returned to the Grand Beach Hotel, the woman, a friend of a couple who lived in the tower with their six-year-old daughter, apologized to the authorities for having “disrespected” them as a result of “frustration, helplessness, nervousness, anxiety and anguish ”that causes him to know that theirs are down and they are up, he said in the briefing he broadcast on his Instagram account.
In addition to wanting to know about the victims, families are increasingly anxious to know the reason for the collapse that has caused this tragedy. None have been released so far and the experts’ investigations, according to authorities, may take months. What did emerge on Friday night is that the oceanfront building had “significant structural damage” to the concrete slab below the pool deck and “abundant cracks and chipping” in the columns, beams and parking lot walls, according to an engineering report carried out in 2018.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.