Death toll climbs as recovery efforts continue at Miami building collapse site

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Death Toll Climbs As Recovery Efforts Continue At Miami Building Collapse Site
Rubble and debris of the Champlain Towers South condo can be seen in Surfside, Florida (Matias J. Ocner/AP), © AP/Press Association Images
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By Terry Spencer, Associated Press

The search for victims of the collapse of a Miami-area high-rise condominium reached its 14th day on Wednesday, with the death toll at 46, scores still unaccounted for and authorities sounding more and more grim.

Miami-Dade assistant fire chief Raide Jadallah told family members in a private briefing that workers had pulled 10 more bodies and additional human remains from the rubble, raising the death toll.

Crews “did some significant removal of the pile”, he said.

“They were able to get down to various areas to inspect.”

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 eight more deaths were announced, the most for a single day since the search began.

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Rubble and debris of the Champlain Towers South condo (Matias J. Ocner/AP)

It also came as rain and wind from Tropical Storm Elsa disrupted the effort, though the storm was on track to make landfall far across the state.

Searchers have found no new signs of survivors, and although authorities said their mission was still geared toward finding people alive, they sounded increasingly sombre.

“Right now, we’re in search and rescue mode,” the county’s police director, Freddy Ramirez, said at a news conference.

He soon added: “Our primary goal right now is to bring closure to the families.”

No one has been rescued from the site since the first hours after the building collapsed on June 24 when many of its residents were asleep.

Searchers were still looking for any open spaces within the mounds of rubble where additional survivors might be found, said the county’s fire chief, Alan Cominsky.

“Unfortunately, we are not seeing anything positive,” he said.

Miami-Dade mayor Daniella Levine Cava said the families of the missing were preparing for news of “tragic loss”.


Rescue workers dig through the rubble with the aid of a digger (Jose A Iglesias/AP)

She said President Joe Biden, who visited the area last week, called on Tuesday to offer his continued support.

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“I think everybody will be ready when it’s time to move to the next phase,” she said.

Reporters got their closest in-person look at the site on Tuesday, though it was limited to the portion of the building that workers tore down Sunday after the initial collapse left it standing but dangerously unstable.

A pile of shattered concrete and twisted steel stood about 30 feet high and spanned roughly half the length of a football field.

A pair of diggers pulled rubble off the pile, which blocked any view of the search effort.

Severe weather from Elsa hindered search efforts to a degree.

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