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11 confirmed dead, 150 still missing after Florida building collapse

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Death toll rises in Florida condo collapse
Death toll rises in Florida condo collapse 04:28

Follow Tuesday's updates here

The search for any signs of life continued on Monday morning, four days after a condominium building partially collapsed in Florida with its residents asleep inside. Late Monday, Mayor Daniella Levine Cava of Miami-Dade County said the death toll has risen to 11 after another body was discovered. She said another 150 people remain unaccounted for.

No one has been pulled alive from the rubble since Thursday when the condominium crumbled in the middle of the night, but search teams continued poring over and carving into the debris.

Levine Cava said family members were allowed to visit the site on Sunday to watch the rescue efforts and pay their respects.

More information was emerging about those who lost their lives in the disaster, along with new clues about what may have caused it. 

As details of the building's possible preexisting problems emerged on Sunday, a lawyer confirmed to CBS News that a Surfside official had told the building's residents in 2018 that "it appears the building is in very good shape."

On Saturday, the city of Surfside released an engineering report from 2018 that flagged significant structural concerns. It was unclear whether the issues noted in the report caused the collapse. The report didn't warn of imminent danger but said repairs were needed.

Waterproofing failed under the pool deck and wasn't properly laid, so water didn't drain, the report said. "The failed waterproofing is causing major structural damage to the concrete structural slab below these areas. Failure to replace the waterproofing in the near future will cause the extent of the concrete deterioration to expand exponentially," it said.

It also said there was "abundant cracking" in concrete columns, beams and walls in the parking garage. The consultant estimated that the repairs needed to address the building's structural issues would have cost more than $9 million.

 

Death toll rises to 11

The death toll from the collapse rose to 11 on Monday after another body was pulled from the rubble, Mayor Daniella Levine Cava of Miami-Dade County said in a news conference. 

She said another 150 are missing, while 136 people are accounted for. Search and rescue teams are still sifting through the rubble with the hope of finding more residents alive. 

"These numbers are very fluid and they will change," Levine Cava said.

By Zoe Christen Jones
 

Federal team of 6 scientists and engineers head to collapse site

A U.S. government team of six scientists and engineers who specialize in disastrous structure failures are headed to south Florida to collect firsthand information on the cause of the building's collapse, National Institute of Standards and Technology spokesperson Jennifer Huergo confirmed to CBS News on Monday.

Their initial work will be used to determine whether to pursue a more thorough study. NIST's Jason Averill said the first two members of the agency's team arrived in Florida on Friday and four more will be there by Monday.

The agency previously investigated disasters such as the collapse of the Twin Towers on 9/11, the 2011 Joplin, Missouri, tornadoes and Hurricane Maria's devastation in Puerto Rico, and the 2003 Station Nightclub fire in Rhode Island.

By Stephen Smith
 

Surfside mayor: "I'm expecting miracles"

On the fifth day of the search and rescue operation at the Champlain Towers South collapse site in Surfside, the town's mayor said Monday he's holding out hope that survivors will be found, CBS Miami reports.

Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said the families of the missing are trying to hold on to hope but with each passing day, it gets harder.

"It's terrible, it's awful. It's like a missing airplane, they don't know where their loved ones are," he said.

Burkett said he too is hoping survivors can be found.

"I'm expecting miracles, I'm looking forward to that. We're praying every day, every minute, and we're not stopping," he said.

By Stephen Smith
 

NYC woman missing in condo collapse had survived COVID-19

Among the missing was Linda March, who recently traded a cramped New York apartment for fresh air and ocean views after surviving a COVID-19 infection. She even bought a bright pink bicycle to cruise around Miami with, best friend Rochelle Laufer said.

Building Collapse Miami Vignette
This undated photo provided by Dawn Falco shows Linda March, who was missing in the collapse of a partial building in Surfside. Dawn Falco / AP

March rented Penthouse 4, and was using the second bedroom of the furnished apartment as her office, Laufer told The Associated Press on Sunday.

Another friend, Dawn Falco, said she had been talking on the phone with March until just two hours before the disaster. Falco said she immediately began searching for word on her friend, who she said never leaves the house "without a smile."

"My heart is breaking as I see the office chair that she just purchased next to the bunkbeds," Falco said.

By Associated Press
 

2018 assessment cited "abundant cracking" in building

Questions remain about structural problems with the partially-collapsed building, CBS News correspondent David Begnaud reports. 

An assessment done by engineers in 2018 looked at, among other things, the building's parking garage. It found "abundant cracking and spalling of varying degrees was observed in the concrete columns, beams and walls."

Also in the report, "the main issue with this building structure is that the entrance drive/pool deck/planter waterproofing is laid on a flat structure." There was no slope for drainage, so the water had to evaporate.

William Espinosa, who was a maintenance manager in the building in the late 90s, said "water would just basically sit there and then it would just seep downward."

However, experts are warning people not to rush to conclusions. One engineer who spoke with CBS News said nothing in the 2018 report suggested a catastrophe of this magnitude could be happening.

By Stephen Smith
 

Mayor describes emotional impact on child of missing parent

Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said he encountered a girl sitting alone near the collapse site late Sunday, reading a Jewish prayer to herself. Burkett said he had earlier encountered the girl and knew that one of her parents lived inside the collapsed building, while the other lives several blocks away. The girl told him she goes back and forth daily, waiting for news of her missing parent.

"That really brought it home to me," Burkett said. "She wasn't crying, she was just lost -- she didn't know what to do, what to say, who to talk to."

Burkett said he didn't see the girl at a meeting with families earlier Monday, but vowed to find her and "tell her we're all here for her, and do the best we can to bring out that parent."

"That is a tiny, tiny example of the impact that this collapse has had on our community," Burkett said.

Florida officials describe emergency response... 08:06
By Erin Donaghue
 

Crews working "feverishly, with urgency"

Miami-Dade Assistant Fire Chief Ray Jadallah said he had heard criticism from families that rescue operations are going too slow. He described hazardous conditions, and said one rescuer had tumbled 25 feet down a mound as families watched the rescue operations. He said crews are working "feverishly, with urgency" in the face of dangerous conditions.

Jadallah said rescue crews will change position this afternoon and are searching through large areas of concrete that requires the use of heavy machinery. It was during that process that the 10th victim was recovered, he said. 

Jadallah said crews are using sonar and cameras and have identified "void spaces" in the rubble, indicating spaces where it's possible people could be. He stressed crews have no confirmation of that. He said crews have not yet reached the bottom of the rubble and are continuing to "de-layer."

Miami Dade Police director Alfredo Ramirez III said investigators are using rapid DNA tests where possible to identify deceased victims. Where they cannot use the DNA testing, Ramirez said the medical examiner will collect the remains in order to identify them.

"We do it all with respect and integrity," Ramirez said. "It's very emotional."

By Erin Donaghue
 

10 confirmed dead in condo collapse, mayor says

Rescue teams recovered another body four days after the building's collapse, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava announced at a press conference Monday.

Ten people have now been confirmed dead in the collapse, Levine Cava said, and 151 remain unaccounted for. She described an "unprecedented mobilization effort."

"People coming in from around the state and around the world to assist us," Levine Cava said.  

Search and rescue teams have been working "for over 100 hours straight," Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said. He thanked the crews, who he said are working in an "incredibly hazardous environment" with more collapse possible. He called the crews "the best of the best."

"The search continues, and it will not stop," DeSantis said.

The mayor said the search for victims remains a top priority, but promised a "thorough and full investigation of what led to this tragic event."

DeSantis said FEMA is working to identify families and offer them assistance with relocation and mental health counseling. In addition, DeSantis said he has met with a team from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) which has launched a preliminary investigation.

By Erin Donaghue
 

Crews from Israel and Mexico join rescue effort

First responders from across Florida are being joined by teams from Mexico and Israel in a joint effort to find any survivors, CBS News correspondent David Begnaud reports.

International rescue crews are working fast, but carefully. One wrong move could mean another disaster, according to officials.

"We need to be sure that the pile does not fall on them, that it does not fall on any possible survivors," Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said in a press conference.

First responders have dug a trench beneath the rubble — so far it is 125 feet long and 40 feet deep.

An Israeli search and rescue team hopes to save people here just like they did after the 2019 Haiti earthquake, when crews found people eight days after the disaster.

By Stephen Smith
 

"This is a frantic search to seek that hope, that miracle"

A rescue official said Monday that search teams have been able to find some voids inside the wreckage.

Andy Alvarez, a deputy incident commander with Miami-Dade Fire Rescue, told "Good Morning America" that the voids are mostly in the basement and parking garage areas.

"We have over 80 rescuers at a time that are breaching the walls that collapsed, in a frantic effort to try to rescue those that are still viable and to get to those voids that we typically know exist in these buildings," Alvarez said.

"We have been able to tunnel through the building," Alvarez added. "This is a frantic search to seek that hope, that miracle, to see who we can bring out of this building alive."

By Stephen Smith
 

Search teams working nonstop, looking for signs of life

Search teams continue to pick through the rubble, working 24 hours a day looking for signs of life after the deadly building collapse.

"We have six to eight squads that are on the pile actively searching at any given time. Hundreds of team members are on standby to rotate as we need a fresh start," said Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava.

TOPSHOT-US-ACCIDENT-CONSTRUCTION
Search and Rescue teams look for possible survivors in the partially collapsed 12-story Champlain Towers South condo building on June 27, 2021 in Surfside, Florida.  GIORGIO VIERA/AFP via Getty Images

Miami-Dade Fire Chief Alan Cominsky called the search operation an "evolving process."  

"We are rotating through. We have gridded out the debris field. We have more heavy equipment that we brought in, so you see larger cranes and different aspects," Cominsky said.

CBS Miami reported additional crews from southwest Florida, central Florida, and Hillsborough County have been brought in to assist with the search. A search team from Israel is also on site.

By Stephen Smith
 

Family members visit site of collapse

Family members and friends of those involved in the building collapse got an opportunity to see the horrific aftermath Sunday with their own eyes, CBS Miami reports.

Nicole Ortiz, who lost two family members in the collapse, was among more than six busloads of family and friends who were taken to the site.

"The first time I went to the site I knew that her apartment wasn't there, so I was devastated," said Ortiz referring to her sister Anna and her nephew Louis Andres.

The two were among those whose bodies have been recovered. 

By Stephen Smith
 

Shock, hope and tears for family of missing residents

Claudio and Maria Bonnefoy are among the dozens of people from Latin America nations who remained unaccounted for on Monday after the Surfside collapse. CBS News' Maria Elena Salinas met Maria's nephew, who told her he was still holding out hope that his family members might be found alive.

"She was always the doting aunt that watched over my wife and her sisters," William Sanchez said. "She was just beautiful."

Bonnefoy, who was from the Philippines, and her Chilean husband Claudio had lived on the tenth floor of the Champlain Towers South condominium for more than a decade, so Sanchez was stunned when he learned through a text message of the building's sudden collapse.

Search for Florida condo collapse survivors 02:20

"I looked up at the building and I thought I'd see her apartment, but I realized that whole side of the building had fallen down," Sanchez recalled. "That's when I called my wife up and we both started crying."

Alluding to the emerging information about previous concerns with their building, Sanchez said the couple were "capable people that were very informed… They really checked the buildings they were going to live. If they had known the building had issues and it was sinking, they would have never bought an apartment."

By Tucker Reals
 

Veteran rescuers battle on, and say there's still hope

Rescuers continued working fast, but carefully overnight as one wrong move could mean another disaster.  

"We need to be sure that the pile does not fall on them, that it does not fall on any possible survivors," Surfside Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said on Sunday evening.

Dozens Presumed Missing After Residential Building In Miami Area Partially Collapses
Search and Rescue teams look for possible survivors in the partially collapsed 12-story Champlain Towers South condo building on June 27, 2021 in Surfside, Florida. Joe Raedle/Getty

As CBS News correspondent David Begnaud reports, much of that work focused late on Sunday and into Monday on digging a trench right into the mountain of rubble. The mayor said the trench, which was vital to provide rescuers access as they searched for any survivors amid the debris, had grown to 125 feet in length and was 40 feet deep by Sunday evening.
 
Israeli and Mexican search and rescue teams joined the effort, adding critical expertise after dealing with their share of disasters. Even as the operation entered its fifth day, members of the Israeli team told CBS News there was still reason to have hope.

One of the team said they hoped to rescue people in Surfside just like they did after the 2010 Haiti earthquake - when crews found people alive eight days after the disaster struck.­­

By Tucker Reals
 

Additional 4 victims identified, Miami-Dade County mayor says

An additional four victims have been identified in the building collapse search, Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said Sunday at a press conference. So far, 134 people have been accounted for and 152 remain unaccounted for, Levine Cava said.

Families of victims will be notified first and it will then be up to them should their names be released, the mayor said. Families were allowed to visit the building collapse site privately on Sunday to grieve.

Florida officials give update on search 29:26

Detectives have not been able to reach some families with missing loved ones and Levine Cava called for anyone with missing victims to file police reports.

She said that $1.2 million has been donated for those impacted so far.

Search and rescue efforts are still continuing.

By Tori B. Powell
 

Biden calls FEMA administrator, thanks "heroic first responders"

President Biden on Sunday called FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell to recap her firsthand visit to the site of the condo collapse on Sunday. He said what she described there was "excruciating," according to a White House press statement.

"I am grateful for the heroic first responders, search and rescue teams, and all FEMA, state, county, local, and volunteer personnel who are working around the clock to try to save lives and for those who are dedicated to helping survivors with many needs, including temporary housing," Mr. Biden said, according to the statement. "We will continue to coordinate closely with officials on the ground throughout this terrible ordeal and my administration is ready to provide any support or assistance that is needed."

"For those who are waiting in anguish for word of their loved ones as search and rescue efforts continue in the aftermath of this catastrophic incident, the pain of the uncertainty is an added, heartbreaking burden. My heart goes out to every single person suffering during this awful moment," Mr. Biden said.

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