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10 more bodies recovered from Florida condo collapse, bringing death toll to 46 people

Search and rescue personnel work at the site of a collapsed Florida condominium complex in Surfside, Miami, in this handout image July 2, 2021.

Miami Dade Fire Department | via Reuters

Ten more bodies were recovered from the site of the collapse of a Florida condominium building, bringing the death toll to 46, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said in a press conference Wednesday morning. 

Ninety-four people remain unaccounted for nearly two weeks after the collapse of Champlain Towers South, Levine Cava added. 

“As the magnitude of this catastrophe continues to grow each and every day since the collapse, the community and the world are grieving,” Levine Cava said. 

Search and rescue teams have been able to reach areas of the pile that were inaccessible prior to the demolition of the building Sunday night, with no reported injuries to any first responders despite difficult conditions at the site, Levine Cava said.

Weather conditions have cleared up, allowing rescue teams to continue their search efforts despite initial concerns they’d have to temporarily pause work Wednesday, Levine Cava said. Forecasters downgraded Elsa from a hurricane to a tropical storm Wednesday after it made landfall along Florida’s north Gulf coast.

The Division of Emergency Management has received 42 resource requests from citizens impacted by Tropical Storm Elsa, with over 26,000 experiencing power outages, according to Florida Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez.

More than 10,000 personnel are prepared to respond to these outages and provide resources such as water, food and generators, Nuñez added.

After a brief stop to demolish the standing debris, Search and Rescue personnel continue working in the rubble pile of the partially collapsed 12-story Champlain Towers South condo on July 5, 2021 in Surfside, Florida.

Giorgio Viera | AFP | Getty Images

Surfside Vice Mayor Tina Paul said that authorities are working to find long-term housing for survivors of the condominium collapse, with many still residing in a hotel.

“That’s also a priority, just to help rebuild their lives,” Paul said. “The best way to start is to have a home that you can call your own.”

Paul added that authorities are receiving several requests from condominium board members and presidents about the safety of their buildings. The city of Surfside has sent out a release calling for geotechnical surveying of properties that are more than 30 years old, but Paul said better recommendations are currently being developed.

Levin Cava also said that Miami-Dade County is continuing to move forward with a 30-day audit that evaluates all residential properties above four stories that are 40 years old or older and “have not completed the process to identify and address any issues.”

The county has evaluated a total of 40 buildings under the audit and identified a building with four balconies that were deemed unsafe, according to Levine Cava. While the building was not evacuated, the balconies were immediately closed down.

The remaining part of the partially collapsed 12-story Champlain Towers South condo building falls in a controlled demolition on July 4, 2021 in Surfside, Florida.

Joe Raedle | Getty Images

Other cities, such as North Miami Beach and Miami Beach, have begun to conduct their own audits as well, she added.

“There will be changes, there will be improvements made,” Levine Cava said.

Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett also provided updates on the Champlain Towers North, the sister property of the collapsed condo building. Engineers and authorities are currently at the sister property evaluating whether it is safe for residents to reside in.

Burkett said that it will take several weeks to gather sufficient evidence of any structural issues with the building.

The cause of the collapse of the condominium building is still unknown. 

Recent evidence reveals that the 40-year-old building had shown signs of structural damage as far back as 2018, with waterproofing issues beneath the pool and cracking in the underground parking garage.

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