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'We're Praying Every Day' Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett Holds Out Hope For Condo Collapse Survivors

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – On the fifth day of the search and rescue operation at the Champlain Towers South collapse site in Surfside, the town's mayor is holding out hope that survivors will be found.

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.

Some families boarded buses and went to the collapse site to be closer to their loved ones and pray.

Congressman Carlos Gimenez, a former Miami Fire Chief, said he was in the daily briefing with the families on Monday morning. He said families were told this is still a search and rescue mission.

"The chief in charge said there are contingencies which have to be taken care of before he changes from search and rescue to recovery," said Gimenez.

As a former chief, Gimenez said it's still possible to find victims alive.

"The fire chief is right until all the contingencies have been eliminated they're going to be in the search and rescue mode. And that's the right posture. You don't want to go into recovery mode and then find out somebody was alive here and we gave up," he said.

To help out at the scene, the United Cajun Navy brought a search and rescue dog to help look for victims. They also brought Gracie, an emotional support dog, to assist those who are praying for a miracle.

"This is my service dog. I know what's she helps me with, with PTSD, so I know she can help the folks here," said Patrick Williamson.

Burkett said right now he is focused on two things: pulling victims from the rubble and supporting the families.

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