10 more bodies found in Miami condo rubble bringing toll to 46

Operation shifts from rescue to recovery as hopes fade the 94 people still unaccounted for will be found alive.

Though local officials say they have not given up hope of finding survivors, no one has been discovered alive in the rubble since the first few hours after the building came down [Marco Bello/Reuters]

Ten more bodies were recovered on Wednesday from the rubble of an apartment block outside Miami that collapsed last month, bringing the confirmed death toll to 46 as search and rescue workers said the operation was shifting from rescue to recovery.

The effort to locate survivors of the Champlain Towers South building collapse had continued in warm, dry conditions with the threat from Tropical Storm Elsa, battering the opposite side of Florida, having receded.

But Miami-Dade Assistant Fire Chief Raide Jadallah told families at a private briefing on Wednesday afternoon that the emergency crews would remove the rescue dogs and sound devices, but otherwise would continue to search through the rubble for the bodies of their relatives.

“Our sole responsibility at this point is to bring closure,” he said, as relatives sobbed in the background.

Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava told an earlier briefing that in addition to the 46 confirmed dead, 94 others who may have been inside the building in Surfside when it partially collapsed on June 24 were still unaccounted for.

in addition to the 46 confirmed dead, 94 others who may have been inside the building in Surfside when it partially collapsed on June 24 were still unaccounted for [Marco Bello/Reuters]

Levine Cava, who shed tears as she repeated her remarks in Spanish, said the rescue effort had been made easier by the planned demolition on Sunday night of the half of the building that had remained standing.

“The team continues to make progress in the areas of the pile that was inaccessible prior to the demolition,” Levine Cava said.

As she spoke, a new shift of workers walked by in small groups, wearing clean uniforms and not sharing a word with each other, while a group leaving the rubble pile looked exhausted and were drenched in sweat.

No one had been discovered alive in the rubble since the first few hours after the building came down in the early hours of June 24 while many of its residents were asleep.

Jadallah told family members about the newly discovered remains on Wednesday morning in a private briefing. Rescuers still have not discovered any new “voids”, or pockets in the rubble that might have harboured survivors, Jadallah said at that time.

An official said rescuers still have not discovered any new “voids,” or pockets in the rubble that might have harboured survivors [Marco Bello/Reuters]

Earlier on Wednesday, Miami-Dade Fire Chief Alan Cominsky sighed when asked during the news conference if officials were giving families a false sense of hope.

“Obviously, it’s very difficult,” he said. “We’ve been exhausting every effort, and that’s where we are right now, is exhausting every effort, and we’ll go from there.”

Maggie Castro, a Miami-Dade firefighter and paramedic, said the families are physically and emotionally exhausted.

“It’s a lot, a lot of emotional roller coasters that they’ve been on, just trying to stay positive and hold out the wait,” said Castro, who has given daily updates to the families.

“There has been a sort of shift, I think, towards acceptance, but also obviously with that comes some sadness,” she told The Associated Press in an interview.

Workers on Tuesday dug through pulverised concrete where the Champlain Towers South building in Surfside once stood, filling buckets that were passed down a line to be emptied and then returned.

The up-close look at the search, in a video released Tuesday by the Miami-Dade County Fire Rescue Department, came as rain and wind from Tropical Storm Elsa disrupted the effort.

Workers on Tuesday dug through pulverised concrete where the Champlain Towers South building in Surfside once stood, filling buckets that were passed down a line to be emptied and then returned [Courtesy of Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Department/Handout via Reuters]
Source: News Agencies

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