WATCH LIVE: Officials to release updates on search operation at site of Surfside building collapse
Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava announced the search-and-rescue operation at the oceanside site of the Surfside building collapse resumed Thursday evening after a nearly 15-hour pause over safety concerns.
Levine Cava said the teams returned to work at 4:45 p.m., ahead of the eighth night of the search. Rescuers tunneled through a compact mountain of pancaked concrete. There was intermittent rain and the risk of spontaneous fires.
Miami-Dade Fire Rescue halted the search-and-rescue operation at Champlain Towers South at 2:11 a.m., Thursday — after working for seven days and seven nights. The death toll was at 18 and 145 remained unaccounted for.
Levine Cava and other officials held a news conference on Thursday afternoon after President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden visited the town of Surfside. Surfside Mayor Charles W. Burkett said Biden was “very engaged” and “very concerned” about making sure the town had everything needed.
Kevin Guthrie, the director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management, said Biden’s administration committed $20.5 million to help cover the costs of logistical operations.
The partial 12-story building collapsed shortly before 2 a.m., June 24. At the improvised headquarters of the operation, a color-coded grid system indicated where the bedrooms and living rooms fell down.
Levine Cava said structural engineers are planning for the possibility of the demolition of the southern part of the Champlain Towers South, which remained standing. Structural engineers used sensors to monitor its stability to help protect possible survivors and rescuers.
Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Chief Alan Cominsky said stability issues paused the investigation. The concerns included 6-12 inches of movement in a large column that is hanging from the structure. There were also cracks that threatened the safety of the garage area and movement in the concrete floor slab “that could cause the additional failure of the building.”
Biden met with the search and rescue crews before meeting with families affected by the tragedy. Levine Cava said he met with the families for about three hours. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz said Biden’s experience with grief helped him to connect with those who are suffering.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology has a team in Surfside. The federal agency investigated the Sept. 11, 2001 collapse of the two main towers of the World Trade Center complex. NIST Director James Olthoff said the team was there on a fact-finding mission and not on a fault-finding technical investigation, which will possibly take years.
“In any building collapse, we would want to understand how the building was designed, how it was constructed, modified and maintained,” added Judith Mitrani-Reiser, of the NIST.
During the news conference on Thursday morning, Gov. Ron DeSantis said officials were monitoring the forecast of Tropical Storm Elsa, which was moving toward the Caribbean. Levine Cava said there were contingency plans in the event the storm system affects Miami-Dade County next week.
Thursday morning news conference
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Here is Miami-Dade Police Department’s list of confirmed deaths:
· Lucia Guara: 11 years old; recovered 6/30/2021
· Emma Guara: 4 years old; recovered 6/30/2021
· Anaely Rodriguez: 42 years old; recovered 6/30/2021
· Andreas Giannitsopoulos: 21 years old; recovered 6/30/2021
· Hilda Noriega: 92 years old; recovered 6/29/2021
· Frank Kleiman: 55 years old; recovered 6/28/2021
· Michael David Altman; 50 years old; recovered 6/28/2021
· Christina Beatriz Elvira Oliwkowicz: 74 years old; recovered 6/27/2021
· Marcus Joseph Guara: 52 years old; recovered 6/26/2021
· Leon Oliwkowicz: 80 years old; recovered 6/26/2021
· Luis Bermudez: 26 years old; recovered 6/26/2021
· Anna Ortiz: 46 years old; recovered 6/26/2021
· Gladys Lozano, 79 years old; recovered 6/25/2021
· Manuel “Manny” LaFont, 54 years old; recovered 6/25/2021
· Stacie Dawn Fang: 54 years old; recovered 6/24/2021
· Antonio Lozano, 83 years old; recovered 6/24/2021