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Death toll in Florida building collapse rises to 36

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Rescuers accelerate search as Elsa approaches 01:43

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Four more victims have been recovered in the Surfside condo building collapse, bringing the confirmed death toll to 36, officials announced Tuesday evening. Of the confirmed victims, 29 have been identified.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said officials have 109 reports of people who are potentially unaccounted for, with around 70 of those confirmed to have been inside the building during the collapse. 

The heightened death toll comes on day 13 of search efforts — and as crews face another challenge: rain and winds hitting the area from Tropical Storm Elsa. At least 80 search and rescue team members are working on the pile at any given time, rotating in 12-hour shifts. Teams worked through the night in extremely adverse and challenging conditions, according to the mayor.

As of Tuesday, 5 million pounds of debris had been moved off the pile of rubble. Wind, however, was hampering the work of large cranes moving heavy debris, according to the mayor of Surfside.

Difficult conditions are expected as Elsa moves along Florida's coast. "We do continue to expect occasional gusts and strong showers today and we are closely monitoring the weather," said Levine Cava. 

The storm was passing near the Florida Keys on Tuesday morning before moving near or over parts of Florida's west coast into Wednesday, according to the National Hurricane Center. 

Florida building collapse
Rescue workers at the Champlain Tower in Surfside, Florida, on July 5, 2021. Eva Marie Uzcategui Trinkl/Anadolu Agency via Getty

Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said officials are now doing a deep dive over another building following the collapse of Champlain Towers South: Champlain Towers North, the sister building of the collapsed structure. 

He noted it is "essentially the same building, built by the same developer at the same time with the same plans, probably with the same materials, and given we do not know why the first building fell down, we have significant concerns about that building."

"We're gonna do everything we can to look at those structural systems, including ground-penetrating radar, the columns, the beams, the slabs, and try to get our arms around what may be happening, what did happen," he said. 

Residents of Champlain Towers North have been offered alternative housing, and several chose that option, he said. 

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