Surfside condo collapse death toll stands at 97
Ninety-two victims of the collapse have been identified and 92 families have been notified, according to a press release issued Thursday by the Miami-Dade mayor’s office.
“At this point in the recovery process, it has become increasingly difficult to identify the victims, and we rely heavily on the work of the medical examiner’s office and the scientific and technical process of identifying the human remains,” he said. declared a press release. “This job gets more difficult over time, even though our teams are working as hard and as fast as possible.”
Going forward, the county says it will only report the number of victims that have been identified, “out of respect for the families still waiting and to make sure we report the most accurate numbers possible.”
The remains of the Champlain Sud Towers, once too risky for heavy machinery and threatened by the remaining structure weighing down on rescuers, are now almost level with the ground as excavators remove piles of debris.
According to Miami-Dade County, more than 22 million pounds of concrete and debris have been removed.
The Miami-Dade Police Department identified six other victims of the collapse on Thursday:
- Maria Notkin, 81
- Michelle Anna Pazos, 23
- Mihai Radulescu, 82 years old
- Valérie Barth, 14 years old
- Miguel Leonardo Kaufman, 65
- Rosa Saez, 70 years old
Notkin, Pazos, Radulescu and Kaufman were recovered on Friday. Valeria and Saez were recovered on Sunday, the MDPD said.
“At the site of the original collapse, we are almost at the bottom,” MDPD police spokesman Alvaro Zabaleta told CNN. “Does that mean we’re almost done with the search? No. Until we clear the entire site and find more human remains, we won’t be done.”
Officials in the region have promised the families of the victims to work diligently until all their loved ones are recovered, a task that is becoming increasingly urgent.
“The identification process has become more difficult over time,” said Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava. “We have to rely heavily on the work of the medical examiner’s office (…) to identify the human remains. The process is very methodical and it is careful and it takes time,” she said.
In the research, 240 people have been identified, 97 victims have been recovered, of which 90 have been identified and 88 next of kin have been notified, according to a statement from Miami-Dade County. Eight people are still missing and all have open missing person reports with the Miami-Dade Police Department.
The site has been both a trying place to work and a solemn reunion.
The tragedy affected victims in several Latin American countries, including Colombia, Venezuela, Uruguay and Paraguay.
Surfside – a small, eclectic town of about 6,000 residents – is also home to a large population of Orthodox Jews. After the collapse when families got together, it was common to hear a mixture of conversations in Hebrew, Spanish, English and Portuguese.
“It is evident that it has become more than a collapsed yard. It is a sacred site,” Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said earlier this week.
Frantic 911 calls from the first moments of the collapse
Calls to 911 during the first moments of the deadly collapse reveal chaos and confusion among residents and bystanders as the building collapsed.
“It looks like something underground, everything exploded,” a caller told dispatchers, adding it looked like an earthquake.
Another caller, who told dispatchers they were in a parking lot, called for help.
“I know the police are already there. Can someone help me out, please? the appellant pleaded. “I was able to escape, but I’m out in the parking lot. If the building collapses, it will fall on my head.”
A caller told dispatchers his sister lived in the building, but was confused as to what had happened and how people would be rescued.
“I don’t know if anything happened to him, but half the building is no longer there,” the appellant said. “There are two people, they are, they are alive but that, they cannot go out because there is no building on the other side of their apartment.”
CNN obtained and transcribed these frantic phone calls about three weeks after the Champlain Towers South collapse.
Collapse boosts building safety reviews
But Singer noted that there will be key differences, including a shorter timeframe to recertify buildings and stricter reporting requirements.
The mayor added that authorities plan to require the recertification of buildings after 30 years or less, but the details will be discussed further in the coming weeks as the city council introduces the measure.
Boca Raton is located 38 miles on the Atlantic coast of Surfside.
In nearby Sunny Isles Beach, Deputy Mayor Larisa Svechin said inspections of the old condominiums would begin immediately.
And the city of Miami has sent a letter to buildings requesting further inspections for those over six stories and over 40 years old.
CNN’s Aya Elamroussi, Tina Burnside, Kelsie Smith, Rebekah Riess and Faith Karimi contributed to this report.