Forty-six people are now confirmed dead in the Miami Beach-area condo building’s partial collapse, officials said Wednesday while announcing 10 more recovered bodies — the biggest single-day spike in the death toll yet.
With 94 people still unaccounted for, crews have not found anyone alive since shortly after half of Champlain Towers South in Surfside, Florida, crumbled into a pile of rubble in less than a minute early June 24.
Of the 46 people confirmed dead, 32 have been identified and their families notified, Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said Wednesday.
Officials are still calling the grueling, nearly-nonstop dig a search and rescue mission, though sounding less hopeful as Thursday will mark two weeks since the collapse.
“Right now, we’re in search and rescue mode,” the county’s police director, Freddy Ramirez, said at a news conference Tuesday evening, adding “our primary goal right now is to bring closure to the families.”
“First responders are searching the pile as if they’re searching for their own loved ones,” Levine Cava said. But the families have been “supported to come to closure as soon as possible.”
“I think everybody will be ready when it’s time to move to the next phase,” she said.
President Joe Biden, who visited the area last week, called to offer his continued support, according to the mayor.
Weather has continued to hamper the efforts. While Tropical Storm Elsa made landfall on Florida’s opposite coast, the Miami area was still seeing its effects with strong winds and rain.
A video released Tuesday by the Miami-Dade County Fire Rescue Department showed dozens working on the pile as tarps and tents waved in the wind and palm trees swayed from side to side.
Miami-Dade Fire Chief Alan Cominsky said Wednesday morning that crews had not paused the search overnight.
Crews have removed 124 tons of debris from the site, Cominsky said. In response to a question from a reporter, he said none of the victims recovered survived the collapse, as far as their remains indicated.
The debris is being sorted and then stored in a warehouse as potential evidence in the investigation into why the building collapsed, officials said.
Documents released by officials revealed previous concerns about the structural integrity of Champlain Towers South. The findings from an engineering consultant, Frank Morabito, showed that there was “abundant cracking” and crumbling in the underground parking garage of the building, according to a 2018 report.
Morabito recommended that concrete slabs, which were “showing distress” by the entrance and the pool deck, “be removed and replaced in their entirety.” He said the concrete deterioration should “be repaired in a timely fashion.”
The National Institute of Standards and Technology and local agencies are working together to investigate what caused half the building to flatten.