The death toll in an apartment tower collapse in the Miami area It rose to 86 this Saturday, after another eight bodies have been found. On Friday the balance closed with 79 dead,after workers extracted 14 more bodies from the ruins and said they had reduced the pile of rubble almost to ground level.
Recovery leaves 53 people still missing and they were feared to die in the concrete and steel rubble of the 12-story oceanfront building in Surfside, said the county mayor of Miami-Dade, Daniella Levine Cava, at an afternoon press conference.
The number of missing could change as not everyone was in the building when it abruptly collapsed in the early morning hours of June 24. Authorities have yet to determine the cause of the disaster.
Miami-Dade Police identified eight more victims on Friday (in total there are already 62 bodies identified), including Sophia López Moreira —hermana of the first lady of Paraguay, Silvana Abdo– her husband Luis Pettengill and the youngest of their three children, Luis López Moreira III.
#UPDATE 70: We have identified eight additional victims who tragically and unexpectedly lost their lives in the Surfside building collapse. Please keep their families and loved ones in your prayers. pic.twitter.com/Kqy9HmSwVL
— Miami-Dade Police (@MiamiDadePD) July 9, 2021
Crews that worked 24 hours a day for 16 days have reduced the size of the rubble pile from four or five stories to almost ground level, and some to underground level.
The rate at which crews were finding the dead has accelerated since crews demolished a still-standing section of the building over the weekend, allowing greater access to the interior of the ruins and greater use of heavy equipment.
Among the positive notes from this catastrophe, Levine Cava reported that a cat named Binx who lived on the ninth floor of the building before it collapsed was found alive in the area, calling the discovery after more than two weeks “little good news.”
After 16 long and incredibly difficult days, I’m able to share a small piece of good news — Binx from Champlain Towers South has been found.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart and on behalf of our community to the team who played a role in reuniting him with his family. pic.twitter.com/yzDxW6plHG
– Daniella Levine Cava (@MayorDaniella) July 10, 2021
Monument to the dead
A debate has already erupted among members of the affected community about what to do with the place where Champlain Towers South once stood, and lawyers for some of the victims’ relatives suggested that it should be a monument to the dead.
Investigators have not determined what caused Champlain Towers South to collapse without warning. Attention has focused on a 2018 engineering report that warned of structural deficiencies.
After the collapse, residents of a nearby condo, Crestview Towers, were told to leave after engineers found serious electrical and concrete problems. They have not been allowed to return as city officials try to determine if the building can be stabilized.