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Miami condo collapse: Death toll climbs to 16 as search for survivors enters 7th day

·Senior Writer
·3 min read
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The death toll in the collapse of a beachfront condo in Surfside, Fla., increased to 16 Wednesday as hope of finding survivors continues to fade.

At a press conference near the site of the collapse, Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said four bodies were pulled from the rubble overnight, raising the official death toll from 12 to 16 while lowering the number of missing to 147.

Cava said officials are conducting an audit of its list of unaccounted for, and that the figures remain "fluid."

Search and rescue efforts will continue as officials said they are not yet ready to pivot to the search and recovery phase.

Rescue workers dig through the rubble at the partially collapsed building in Surfside, Fla., Tuesday. (MDFR/Handout via Reuters)
Rescue workers dig through the rubble at the partially collapsed building in Surfside, Fla., Tuesday. (MDFR/Handout via Reuters)

No survivors have been pulled from the rubble since Thursday, when more 37 people were taken out alive in the hours after the building collapsed. One of them later died at the hospital.

Fifteen bodies have been recovered since.

"We are doing everything humanly possible and then some to get through this," Cava said.

President Biden, who authorized the Federal Emergency Management Agency to aid in the rescue and recovery efforts, plans to visit Surfside, Fla., on Thursday.

Last week, Biden offered sympathy for the families waiting for news about loved ones.

"There’s nothing worse than having to wait and wonder," Biden said.

More than 200 emergency personnel — including teams from Israel and Mexico — including the Army Corps of Engineers have been working around the clock on the pile of twisted metal and concrete. Rescue crews have been using light equipment, including shovels and buckets, as well as specially-trained dogs and sonar equipment, to search the pile.

Heavy rain and intermittent thunderstorms have complicated rescue operations.

It’s the largest deployment of task force resources in the state of Florida that’s not a hurricane, Gov. Ron DeSantis said. The last rescue effort of this size was undertaken in 2018, after Hurricane Michael, a Category 5 hurricane, struck.

It's unclear what caused the building, which was built in 1981, to collapse.

Rescue workers search the rubble at the partially collapsed building in Surfside, Fla., Tuesday. (MDFR/Handout via Reuters)
Rescue workers search the rubble at the partially collapsed building in Surfside, Fla., Tuesday. (MDFR/Handout via Reuters)

A researcher at Florida International University told USA Today that the building has been sinking into the wetlands at an alarming rate since the 1990s, according to a 2020 study conducted by the school.

New documents released over the weekend showed that an engineering firm warned of "major structural damage" and the potential for "exponential damage" in 2018.

Sea level rise due to climate change is also being eyed as a contributing factor.

Meanwhile, Miami's top prosecutor said Tuesday she will ask a grand jury to investigate the building’s collapse.

"I plan to request that our Grand Jury look at what steps we can take to safeguard our residents without jeopardizing any scientific, public safety, or potential criminal investigations," Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said in a statement.

Daniel Alvarez of Argentina prays at makeshift memorial in Surfside, Fla., Tuesday. (Photo by Octavio Jones for The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Daniel Alvarez of Argentina prays at makeshift memorial in Surfside, Fla., Tuesday. (Photo by Octavio Jones for The Washington Post via Getty Images)

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