79 confirmed dead as search becomes recovery operation following Surfside

Missing


FAST FACTS:

  • Search effort shifted to recovery operation after 15 days of searching for survivors
  • 79 people are confirmed dead
  • 61 people unaccounted for, 200 people accounted for
  • Remaining structure demolished Sunday night
  • 2018 report warned of “major structural damage” below the pool deck

SURFSIDE, Fla. — Seventy-nine people are dead and many more are still missing after part of a South Florida building collapsed early Thursday, June 24, Miami-Dade officials confirmed.

After two weeks of searching for signs of life, officials told families on Wednesday that it would be next to impossible to find anyone alive.

Miami-Dade officials confirmed Friday that 15 more victims were found in the rubble, bringing the death toll to 79. Officials said 61 people are still missing.

Some victim’s families visited the site with officials on Thursday for a moment of silence with the search and rescue crews.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava also signed a local state of emergency on Saturday, July 3, in preparation for Tropical Storm Elsa. She said it will ensure all necessary resources are mobilized, so the county is ready for any possible impacts.

The part of the Champlain Towers structure that was still standing was demolished around 10:30 p.m. Sunday.

Governor DeSantis said the remainder of the building in Surfside was structurally unsound. While Tropical Storm Elsa’s eye did not pass over Miami, officials felt that potential gusts could’ve made the remaining structure dangerous.

Crews are continuing to find victims in the rubble of the building collapse, and one of the victims included a City of Miami firefighter’s 7-year-old daughter.

President Joe Biden visited Surfside Thursday and approved 25 million in FEMA funds for Surfside, Miami-Dade officials. Biden also spent three hours with the families of the victims and first responders.

Several bodies that have been found so far have been identified using DNA from the families, Mayor Cava said.

Miami-Dade Police released the names of these victims who died:

  • Stacie Dawn Fang, 54
  • Antonio Lozano, 83
  • Gladys Lozano, 79
  • Manuel LaFont, 54
  • Leon Oliwkowicz. 80
  • Luis Bermudez, 26
  • Anna Ortiz, 46
  • Christina Beatriz Elvira, 74
  • Michael David Altman, 50
  • Marcus Joseph Guara, 52
  • Frank Kleiman, 55
  • Hilda Noriga, 92
  • Lucia Guara, 10
  • Emma Guara, 4 
  • Anaely Rodriguez, 42
  • Andreas Giannitsopoulos, 21
  • Magaly Elana Delgado, 80
  • Bonnie Epstein, 56
  • Claudio Bonnefoy, 69
  • Maria Obias-Bonnefoy, 69
  • Unnamed, 7 (At family’s request)
  • Garcia Cattarosi, 48
  • Gonzalo Torre, 81
  • David Epstein, 58
  • Ingrid Ainsworth, 66
  • Tzvi Ainsworth, 68
  • Nancy Kress Levin, 76
  • Jay Kleiman, 52
  • Francis Fernandez, 67
  • Graciela Cattarossi, 86
  • Gino Gattarossi, 89
  • Simon Segal, 80
  • Gary Cohen, 58

Officials said they will not release identities until the victim’s families have been notified.

The mayor said officials will be conducting a full investigation with local, state, and federal officials.

As officials continue to investigate what caused the collapse at the Champion Towers South, city officials in Surfside released a trove of documents related to the building, including a consultant’s 2018 report. According to ABC News, the report showed evidence of cracks and flooding.

Morabito Consultants, a company that inspected the building in 2018, released this statement Saturday:

Miami-Dade officials have asked residents in the second building to temporarily relocate, and they are working with FEMA to make those arrangements, but this is not mandatory. It’s a voluntary relocation if residents want the option. Officials said they plan to do a deep dive over the next few weeks to make sure it’s safe.

Governor Ron DeSantis declared a State of Emergency in Miami-Dade County while crews continue to work.

President Biden authorized the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to coordinate all disaster relief efforts on the federal level.

More than 80 units responded to the condominium building that collapsed near 88th Street and Collins Avenue just north of Miami Beach around 2 a.m., Miami-Dade Fire Rescue officials said.


Video from the scene shows huge piles of rubble near the damaged building as well as a large amount of first responders.

Southwest Florida’s own Urban Search and Rescue Task Force 6 headed to Surfside to support first responders already on site. The team is made up of firefighters, specialists, volunteers, and three Lee County EMS paramedics. They are trained to search rubble and provide emergency medical care, Lee County Public Safety said.

VIDEO OF BUILDING COLLAPSING:

Kimberly Morales said she lives in the building across the street from the collapse and was woken up by building alarms going off and pounding on her door.

“I woke everyone up in the room because when I looked out the window, I saw everyone outside,” she said. “I told everyone to hurry up and leave the building.”

Morales said she didn’t hear the building collapse but when she went outside, she saw a significant portion of the building was missing.

The building was built in 1981 and had 136 condo units and is 12 stories tall, the Miami-Dade Assistant Fire Chief said. At least four levels were destroyed in the collapse.

Burkett confirmed roof work was being done at the building, but said roof work is constantly being done on buildings and doesn’t believe that is a reason for the collapse.

He said he is sure an application must have been completed before the work started and that an inspection would have been made beforehand.

The mayor said he can’t imagine any reason for the tragedy other than something like a sinkhole or other natural cause.

First responders have established a reunification center for survivors and their loved ones.



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