The seven-year-old daughter of a Miami firefighter was found dead in the rubble of a collapsed condominium, officials said on Friday as they announced that the official Miami death toll had risen to 20.
Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said the overnight rescue mission was difficult as operations stretched into their ninth day.
“It goes without saying that each night has been extremely difficult for everyone and especially for the families who have been affected,” said Levine Cava. “But last night was particularly different. It was really different and more difficult for our first responders.
“These men and women pay a huge human price every day, and I ask you all to keep them all in your thoughts and prayers,” she said.
Two bodies were found during the night, including the young girl. Levine Cava said the number of people missing stood at 128, down from the previous figure of 145.
“When detectives were able to reach and verify the safety of a person in question, we discovered that there were several family members who could potentially have been in the building and now we can mark them as safe,” he said. she declared.
“This is very, very good news. That’s 188 people, ”said Levine Cava.
Authorities have also braced for the potential effect of approaching Hurricane Elsa, the first hurricane of the storm season in the Atlantic. It was too early to determine its course, but emergency responders said it could strike South Florida as early as Monday and that they are planning accordingly.
Frequent storms have already hampered rescue efforts, which were halted for 14 hours on Thursday due to safety concerns at the site.
There are still 145 people missing after the partial collapse of Champlain Towers South in the Miami suburb of Surfside in the early hours of last Thursday, killing at least 18 people.
The cause of the collapse remains unknown and elected officials have undertaken to conduct several investigations.
Joe Biden said survivors and relatives of those missing told him they were concerned about the potential role of the climate crisis and construction near the structure during a meeting Thursday while visiting the president at the disaster site as crews continued to search for casualties under the dangerous pile of wreckage.
“It’s interesting to me, I haven’t talked about it, but how many survivors and how many families have talked about the impact of global warming,” Biden said, adding, “They didn’t know exactly but they did talked about sea levels rising… and the combination of that and concern about incoming tropical storms. ”
Experts have told the Guardian that while the role of rising seas in this collapse is still unclear, the integrity of buildings in South Florida will be threatened by advancing salt water rising from the sea. ‘down to weaken the foundations. The climate crisis is also making hurricanes more destructive.
Most of South Florida is only a few feet above sea level at a time when the region is experiencing a rapid rise in sea level, due to the man-made climate crisis . To compound this problem, the area relies on limestone, a porous rock that allows rising seawater to bubble from below.
“I don’t think there is, at this point, a final judgment on why it collapsed and what can be done to prevent it from happening and what other buildings might need to be inspected for. determine if they have the same problems. Biden said.
The collapse prompted cities in South Florida to order inspections of tall buildings, especially those along the coast most vulnerable to sea level rise.
Surfside has asked owners of structures over three stories and over 30 years old to start evaluating buildings for recertification. Current law requires this process to occur after 40 years and it was underway at the Champlain Towers in the years leading up to the collapse. This opinion effectively advances the process by 10 years.
In preparation for recertification, an engineer inspected the Champlain South Towers and discovered major structural damage in 2018. The findings of the report, conducted as the building prepared for a required recertification, were being reviewed as recently as April, when the president of the Champlain Towers Southern Condo Association urged residents to support a $ 15 million building repair.
Investigators are likely to review these and other documents when investigating the cause of the building collapse.
The priority at the site of the collapse remains search and rescue, Levine Cava said Thursday. But officials also predict “the likely demolition of the building,” she said. The timing has not been determined and officials should consider the effect a demolition might have on the existing mound of debris.
Scott Nacheman, a structural specialist at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said the demolition was necessary to create a safer environment for rescue teams.
“If the building goes down there and a number of different ways we can try to steer where it would go the way it’s run,” Nacheman said.
Nacheman said they would assess the situation and share information with officials before moving forward. He said: “The best case scenario we’re looking at is weeks before we can figure out what the final timeline will be. “