On Tuesday Jul 6th, officials overseeing the search at the site of the Florida condominium collapse sounded increasingly grave. The Champlain Towers South partially collapsed in the early morning of Tuesday, Jun 24th.
Search officials say there is no detection of signs of life in the rubble, thus dimming the prospects of finding anyone alive. The death toll from the condo collapse now stands at 36.
Search officials work 13 days straight
Wind and rain from the outer bands of Tropical Storm Elsa complicated rescue efforts. However, rescue crews in yellow helmets and blue jumpsuits continue searching the debris for 13 days straight.
The Miami-Date County Fire Rescue Department released a video. Workers were seen lugging pickaxes and power saws through piles of concrete rubble barbed with snapped steel rebar. Many other workers with gloved hands, were seen digging through crushed concrete and dumping shovels of debris into large buckets.
Fire Chief not seeing anything positive
It is nearly two weeks after the pancake collapse of Champlain Towers South high-rise. Search-and-rescue teams are continuing to look for open spaces in the rubble where people might be found alive.
Miami-Dade County Fire Chief Alan Cominsky held a recent news conference. Cominsky said, “We’re actively searching as aggressively as we can.” He added, “Unfortunately, we are not seeing anything positive. The key things – void spaces, living spaces – we’re not seeing anything like that”.
Families of those still missing are preparing for news of “tragic loss”, according to Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava. Officials on the other hand, are still calling the efforts a search-and-rescue operation.
Shifting focus during the second phase
Levine Cava said “I think everybody will be ready when it’s time to move to the next phase”. Cava stressed that crews would use the same care as they go through the rubble during the second phase. In this phase, the focus will shift from searching for survivors to recovering the dead.
The Miami-Dade Mayor added, “Really, you will not see a difference. We will carefully search for bodies and belongings, and to catalog and respectfully deal with any remains that we find.”
Search operations started in the first hours after the collapse on Jun 24th. Unfortunately, not a single person has been rescued alive from the rubble as yet.
8 more bodies found on Tuesday
On Tuesday, officials announced the recovery of eight more bodies by rescue teams. Since the collapse, this is highest one-day recovery total. Currently, the number of people who remain unaccounted for stands at over 100.
Search works hampered by Elsa
Tropical Storm Elsa threatened to hamper search efforts. Miami-Dade Assistant Fire Chief Raide Jadallah said early on Tuesday, lightning forced rescuers to pause their work for two hours. Officials said efforts to move heavy debris using cranes were hampered by stiff winds of 32kmh accompanied by stronger gusts.
Weather officials expected Elsa’s strongest winds and heaviest rainfalls to bypass Surfside and Miami. The tropical storm did gain some strength on its journey. However, Elsa made landfall somewhere between Tampa Bay and Florida’s Big Bend on a path across northern Florida. As a result, Elsa’s strongest winds and heaviest rain bypassed Surfside and neighbouring Miami.
Levine Cava said “Active search and rescue continued throughout the night, and these teams continue through extremely adverse and challenging conditions.” “Through the rain and through the wind, they have continued searching.”
Fire Chief Cominsky said crews have removed nearly 112 metric tonnes of debris from the site.
Authorities demolished the unstable remaining portion of the condo building on Sunday. The demolition allows rescue workers to move safely as well as cover a broader search area. Experts decided on the necessity of demolishing the remaining portion of the building, based on safety factors. There was a strong possibility of the remaining portion caving in, thus endangering the search and rescue crews.
Demolishing the remaining structure gives access to spaces previously inaccessible to rescue crews. This includes searching ruins of bedrooms as most residents were believed to be sleeping at the time of the disaster.
7th July 2021 23:00
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