Surfside Condo Collapse: Another Victim Recovered, 117 People Unaccounted For
MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Another victim has been recovered after search efforts resumed Monday at the site of the Champlain Towers South condo collapse.
The remaining 12-story building was reduced to rubble Sunday night in a controlled implosion.
"It did not disturb the existing pile," said Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett. "It fell away exactly as planned and they got to work immediately following that."
A CBS4 News camera was aboard a boat just offshore and captured what remained of the Champlain Towers South crumbling.
WATCH: Rest Of Collapsed Surfside Condo Demolished
As soon as the dust settled, search crews were able to access portions of the building that were off limits due to the instability of the remaining structure, and fears about Tropical Storm Elsa have vanished.
"The collapse of an entire building is devastating and one I didn't make lightly," said Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava. "But we could not continue without bringing the building down."
Earlier in the day, once rescuers were back on the pile, they recovered three more bodies.
Two of those victims were 66-year-old Ingrid Ainsworth and her 68-year-old husband Tzvi Ainsworth. According to published reports, the couple lived in Australia for 20 years before returning to South Florida to be near their children.
At Monday evening's press conference, Mayor Cava reported crews found another victim, bringing the death toll to 28. The mayor said 26 of those victims have been identified. The number of unaccounted for is now 117.
No one has been rescued since the first few hours after the collapse.
Despite Sunday night's demolition, there is still hope.
"We are still praying to possibly find survivors," said Miami-Dade Commission Vice-Chairman Oliver Gilbert. "And we are praying for answers to figure out how this happened.
Answers are slowly beginning to emerge regarding what brought down the 12-story largely occupied 150-unit structure 12 days ago and it is complex – from concerns over the amount of steel re-enforcement at the base of the building, to corrosion to failing concrete and water intrusion.
Currently, there are at least 80 search and rescue team members once again working the pile in 12-hour shifts. South Florida teams have help from New Jersey and other states.
At Monday evening's presser, Burkett said rescue operations are at 100% capacity.
"The looming threat of that building, the dangerous situation where debris could fall down, has been eliminated," he said.
Also announced Monday night was that Harding Avenue is now open to north and southbound traffic.
While it is safer now and the storm is less of a threat, the job isn't any less grueling.
"A lot of the stuff has to be overturned by hand so these guys use small shovels but you have to be careful because we don't know what's below," explained Miami Fire Rescue Capt. Ignatius "Iggy" Carroll.
GALLERY: Demolition Of Remaining Collapsed Surfside Condo
Officials say the debris from the portion of the building that was demolished fell in a different area from the previous collapse. A tarp was over the original rubble pile to ensure they don't mix. They stressed the building is being taken down out of necessity and is not something to celebrate.
Mayor Cava also addressed the concerns about pets that may have been in the building.
"In the days since the collapse, the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Team conducted multiple full sweeps of the building in person, including searching in closets, and under beds and other hiding places. In the areas of the building that were not accessible to the teams, they used ladders on high lift cranes, and they placed live animal traps on the balconies at great personal risk to our first responders. Doorways were opened other means for the pets to escape the building if they were able," she said. "So I want to say as clearly as I possibly can and urge our community to understand that we went to truly great lengths to take every step that we could at great risk to our first responders to ensure that all of the pets that were beloved family members, that none of them were left in the building prior to the demolition."
Cava also expressed sympathy for the families affected.
"I also want to take a moment to acknowledge and reflect on the great tragedy that this has been for those who have survived the building collapse and have had to evacuate. The world is mourning for those who lost their loved ones. For those who are waiting for news from the collapse, to lose your home and all your belongings in this manner is a great loss as well. My heart and deepest sympathies goes out to all of the families who have had this tragedy," she said.
WATCH: Miami-Dade Mayor Gives Update At Monday Evening's Press Conference
Cava said they raised millions of dollars to help the families affected.
"We've raised millions of dollars thanks to the generosity of people in this country and all around the world. Their generosity has been overwhelming. It is going to be very, very important to put these funds into these families hands to help them to rebuild and meet their unmet needs. They have already been getting this assistance," she said.
Neighbors 4 Neighbors has established a fund to assist families impacted by the collapse as well as help feed first responders. To contribute, call Neighbors 4 Neighbors at (305) 597-4404 or go to neighbors4neighbors.org/surfsidefund.
So far, they have raised more than $120,000.
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