Death toll rises to 18 a week after Florida condo collapse

TEHRAN, Jul. 01 (MNA) – Six more bodies have been found in the ruins of a Miami-area condominium tower, officials said on Wednesday, bringing the confirmed death toll to 18 nearly a week after the building collapsed.

Nobody has been pulled alive from the mounds of pulverized concrete, splintered lumber and twisted metal since the early hours of the disaster on June 24 in the oceanfront town of Surfside, Florida, adjacent to Miami Beach,Reuters reported. 

Authorities put the number of people missing and feared trapped in the ruins of the Champlain Towers South condo at 145. Two of the 18 confirmed fatalities were children, aged 10 and 4, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava told a news conference.

"The loss of children is too great to bear," Levine Cava said. "Our community, our nation and the world all are mourning with these families who have lost loved ones."

Among the six latest victims confirmed, the remains of four were recovered overnight Tuesday into Wednesday, and two were located later on Wednesday, Levine Cava said.

Officials have said they still hold out hope of finding survivors. Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said in an interview he had promised families that rescue crews were "not leaving anyone behind" as teams dig deeper into the rubble.

"We've not gotten to the bottom. We don't know what's down there," he said. "We're not going to guess. We're not going to make a life-or-death decision to arbitrarily stop searching for people who may be alive in that rubble."

Burkett said that every day the mound of wreckage is visibly shrinking, indicating progress.

The search-and-rescue crews consist of about 200 specialists working around the clock in 12-hour shifts, with hundreds more personnel - firefighters, police, engineers, environmental safety experts and others - serving in support roles. Two teams of dogs were helping to scour the wreckage - one trained to sniff out survivors, the other to detect cadavers.

Investigators have not concluded what caused nearly half of the 40-year-old high-rise to collapse as residents slept in the early hours of last Thursday.

But in 2018, a report prepared by the engineering firm Morabito Consultants ahead of a building safety recertification process found structural deficiencies in the 12-floor, 136-unit complex that are now the focus of inquiries.

As recently as April, the condo association's president warned residents in a letter that severe concrete damage identified by the engineer around the base of the building had grown "significantly worse."


News Code 175560


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