Surfside collapse death toll reaches 78
The death toll from the Surfside condo collapse has climbed to 78, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said Friday.
That includes 14 bodies that were recovered overnight.
As of noon, 47 victims’ families had been notified. The mayor said 62 people remain unaccounted for.
“They’re leaving behind devastated families,” Levine Cava said of the deceased. “The magnitude of this tragedy is growing every day.”
Officials told families that they believe they’ll be able to recover all remaining victims in the next week or so.
Friday is the second full day since the operation turned from search and rescue to search and recovery, with workers no longer detecting for signs of life.
“I see a lot of sweat. I see a lot of emotion,” Fire Marshal and state CFO Jimmy Patronis said Friday morning of the search efforts at the site. “I see the same intensity now as I saw 15 days ago.”
Illustrating their progress, Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said the pile of rubble that was once 4-5 stories high is now at about ground level. He said debris is being searched for personal belongings that can be preserved.
Deceased victims who were identified by Miami-Dade police on Friday include:
Maria Teresa Rovirosa, 58 (recovered Wednesday)Luis Lopez Moreira III, 3 (recovered Wednesday)Sophia Lopez Moreira, 36 (recovered Thursday)Luis Pettengill, 36 (recovered Wednesday)Vishai Patel, 42 (recovered Tuesday)Bhavna Patel, 36 (recovered Tuesday)Deborah Berezdivin, 21 (recovered Wednesday)Juan Alberto Mora, 80 (recovered Wednesday)
Sophia López Moreira is the sister of Paraguay’s first lady Silvana Abdo. Luis Pettengill was her husband and Luis Lopez Moreira III the youngest of their three children.
Miami-Dade Police Director Freddy Ramirez confirmed that one of his officers had his foot run over by a truck while working at the scene Thursday. Ramirez said the officer was taken to the hospital and is in “good spirits.”
“He’s just frustrated he can’t be here to contribute,” Ramirez said.
About 9 million pounds of concrete have been removed from the rubble so far, officials said Thursday.
While they say it is unlikely they find anyone alive at this point, some families are still holding onto hope.
“100%. Yeah, 100%,” Dr. Joshua Spiegel told Local 10 News on Thursday when asked if he remained hopeful that his mother Judy could still be alive in the rubble. “Out of all the things that have happened in the last two weeks, we are still very hopeful we can still find my mom. That’s all we really want.”
Spiegel said that at first the family was discouraged by the shift to a recovery operation, but he has seen that the work hasn’t stopped.
“They needed to make that name change in order to do a few different things, like use bigger machinery in certain areas,” Spiegel said. “To hopefully speed up this process to find more people.”
Those families had a chance to visit the collapse site again Thursday afternoon and shared a moment of silence with first responders.
Today, loved ones and first responders met at the collapse site for a moment of silence and prayers. Our Aviation Unit held a special flyover to honor the families and the lives that were tragically and unexpectedly taken from us. #SurfsideStrong pic.twitter.com/U9ieY9iezT
— Miami-Dade Police (@MiamiDadePD) July 9, 2021
Officials say this is the largest emergency in Florida’s history other than a hurricane.
“Eleven seconds of devastation was all it took for a community to be shaken to its core — the kind of tragedy that tests us and shows us what we are truly made of,” Levine Cava said.
A fire official told family members at a meeting that crews “will not stop working until they’ve gotten to the bottom of the pile and recovered every single of the families’ missing loved ones,” Burkett said at a Thursday evening news conference. He did not identify the official, but said the families were grateful.
“This is exactly the message the families wanted to hear,” Burkett said.