Surfside Condo Collapse: Search-&-Rescue Operations Resume, Death Toll At 18
MIAMI (CBSMiami) – After being halted for most of the day, search-and-rescue operations continued Thursday afternoon at the site of the Champlain Towers South collapse in Surfside.
The search-and-rescue operations were halted overnight due to safety concerns.
"We were forced to halt operations on the collapse in the early hours of the morning due to structural concerns about the standing structure. We are doing everything that we can to ensure that the safety of our first responders is paramount and to continue our search and rescue operation," said Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava.
Here is what Miami-Dade Fire Rescue tweeted on Thursday afternoon:
Search & rescue efforts have resumed following a temporary halt of operations after the recommendation of structural engineers who inspected the remaining structure. Finding missing loved ones continues to be at the forefront of our operations. #SurfsideBuildingCollapse pic.twitter.com/3faDkju3Fj
— Miami-Dade Fire Rescue (@MiamiDadeFire) July 1, 2021
Miami-Dade Fire Chief Alan Cominsky said on-site structural engineers advised the stop.
"Concern assessments included six to 12 inches of movement and a large column hanging from the structure that could fall and cause damage to the support columns in the subterranean garage area. (There was) a slight movement in concrete floor slabs on the south side of the structure near the north and south corner of the building could cause additional failure of the building," said Cominsky.
Cominsky during their initial search and rescue efforts, firefighters heard a woman's voice but they were not able to get to her in time.
"While we were working underneath the structure, structure that is significantly compromised right now, we did hear audible sounds. They were searching for a female, her voice is what we heard for several hours, eventually, we didn't hear her voice anymore," he said.
By 4:45 p.m. Thursday, Miami-Dade Fire Rescue confirmed the search-and-rescue operations had resumed.
"Our firefighters looked really, really excited to get back out there," said Miami-Dade county Mayor Daniella Levine Cava at Thursday evening's press conference.
A new search-and-rescue operation reengagement plan has been put in place and for safety reasons. It does not include searching the entire rubble.
"The operations have resume with resume safety mitigation methods in place to maintain the safety and accountability of all personnel at this time rescue squad will be working in three other nine and grids," said Miami-Dade Fire Chief Alan Cominsky.
Within hours of crews going back in, 80-year-old Magaly Delgado was identified as one of the deceased.
Earlier this week, Delgado's daughter spoke about the building maintenance that may have caused the collapse.
"Poor decisions were made and it robbed me of saying goodbye to my mother. My father died in August of COVID. I didn't get to hold him, I didn't get to say goodbye. I didn't get to say goodbye to my mother, so I wanna sense of accountability," said Magie Ramsey.
She had an opportunity to go to the site and she says it helped with the healing process.
"It was good for me to process. It was horrible because some people were processing by yelling out the name of their loved ones," she explained. "So as I'm there and I'm trying to process the moment, yeah. And people that are processing by yelling like mom or son or their name or come out were coming and you're seeing everybody hurting so it's difficult, but it's good."
No remains were recovered overnight. The death toll stands at 18, including two children.
The children were identified as 10-year-old Lucia Guara and 4-year-old Emma Guara. The body of their mother, 42-year-old Anaely Rodriguez, was recovered earlier in the day. Marcus Guara, the girls' father and Rodriguez's husband, was confirmed dead after his remains were pulled from the rubble on Saturday.
The others who have been recovered and identified from the site are Stacie Dawn Fang, 54; Antonio Lozano, 83 and Gladys Lozano, 79; Manuel LaFont, 54; Leon Oliwkowicz, 80; Christina Beatriz Elvira, 74; Frank Kleiman, 55; Michael David Altman, 50; Hilda Noriega, 92; Andreas Giannitsopoulos, 21; Anna Ortiz, 46, and her son Luis Bermudez, 26.
Gov. Ron DeSantis said another concern going into the weekend is Tropical Storm Elsa.
"It's going to continue to quickly move through the Caribbean through the weekend, eventually turning northwest near South Florida by Monday. We are not expecting any impacts through Saturday but, obviously, the state meteorologists are actively monitoring the storm and will continue to provide updates," he said.
The governor said the state's Division of Emergency Management continues to work on contingency plans for potential tropical weather impacts.
He added that there are almost 500 first responders on the scene and almost 1,400 tons of building material had been removed from the site.
During the evening press conference, Cava announced they're "planning for the likely demolition of the building while the search and rescue continues."
For those looking to help the families impacted by the collapse, Neighbors 4 Neighbors has established a fund.
To contribute, call Neighbors 4 Neighbors at (305) 597-4404 or go to <a href="http://For those looking to help, Neighbors 4 Neighbors has established a fund for those in need. To contribute, call Neighbors 4 Neighbors at (305) 597-4404 or go to neighbors4neighbors.org/surfsidefund" target="_blank" rel="noopener">neighbors4neighbors.org/surfsidefund</a>.
So far they have raised $83,000.
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