Miami building collapse: Poignant moment of silence for Surfside as rescue mission called off

Rescue workers hold a moment of silence for victims of the Surfside condo collapse

Maroosha Muzaffar
Thursday 08 July 2021 07:57
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<p>Search and Rescue personnel work as Miami-Dade firefighters spray water at a partially collapsed building in Surfside, Miami Beach, on 24 June 2021</p>

Search and Rescue personnel work as Miami-Dade firefighters spray water at a partially collapsed building in Surfside, Miami Beach, on 24 June 2021

Rescue workers at the site of the Surfside condo collapse in Miami on Wednesday observed a moment of silence for the victims as they transitioned from search to recovery operations amidst dwindling hope of finding anyone else alive in the debris.

Miami-Dade county mayor Daniella Levine Cava said the transition will take place at midnight. Meanwhile, the bodies of ten more people were found in the rubble by the rescue teams.

Workers who have been at the site of the collapse for the past 13 days, trying to find survivors, held a moment of silence for the victims.

Ms Cava told the media: “To share this news with the families this evening who are still missing their loved ones was devastating and it’s also difficult to share with all of you.”

Marking the moment, she observed: “At this point, we have truly exhausted every option available to us in the search and rescue mission. So today is about beginning the transition to recovery so we can help to bring closure to the families who have been suffering and waiting for news.”

The death toll as of Wednesday rose to 54 and 84 are still missing. “Of those, 33 victims have been identified, and 200 people have been accounted for,” the mayor announced.

Miami-Dade county fire chief Alan Cominsky said the “decision to transition to a recovery operation was based on the facts that emerged throughout the search and rescue mission in the past two weeks.”

Mr Cominsky told the media: “To determine the viability of life in the rubble, we considered engineering, medical and other factors.”

Search and Rescue personnel Maggie Castro (L) and Eddy Alarcon hug as they visit the memorial to the victims in the collapsed 12-story Champlain Towers South condo building as the search and rescue efforts are reported be transitioning to a recovery operation on 7 July, 2021 in Surfside, Florida.

Miami-Dade’s assistant fire chief Raide Jadallah said those factors included the “building collapse itself, the pancake, which gives you the lowest probability of survivability,” adding that “typically an individual has a specific amount of time, in regards to lack of food, water and air. This collapse, you know, just doesn’t provide any of that sort.”

The fire chief added that “The other factors that we have to include, you know, the fact that we did not get in the alert (from) a K-9, a sensor trip forward, sound, and any visual utilising our cameras. The last known alert that we received was in the initial hours the day of the collapse.”

Surfside mayor Charles Burkett said on Wednesday evening: “Today is a heartbreaking day, but I have not lost hope that there could yet be a miracle. In the end, God is still in charge. While there seems to be no chance of finding life in the rubble, a miracle is still possible.”

Members of search and rescue teams gather for a moment of silence and prayer at the memorial to the victims in the collapsed 12-story Champlain Towers South condo building on 7 July, 2021 in Surfside, Florida. Search and rescue efforts are reported be transitioning to a recovery operation.

The decision to transition to a recovery effort starting Wednesday midnight, came after rescuers finished searching new areas of rubble that had become accessible after the workers had demolished the still-standing portion of Champlain Towers South.

Florida’s legal community has created a safety task force to review laws governing the state’s condominium development industry, CNN reported. According to a statement, the Condominium Law and Policy on Life Safety Task Force is “intended to serve residents of the state and was created by the Real Property, Probate, and Trust Law Section of the Florida Bar.”

Toys found in the rubble are left by rescue workers at the makeshift memorial for the victims of the building collapse near the crash site in Surfside, Florida, north of Miami Beach on June 30, 2021. - Four more bodies were discovered overnight in the rubble of a collapsed apartment building in Florida, authorities said Wednesday, as the search for more than 140 people unaccounted for entered its seventh day. The official death toll now stands at 16 after most of a building in the Miami-area town of Surfside suddenly pancaked early last Thursday, but hopes are dwindling that the hundreds of rescuers combing the oceanfront site will find anyone alive.

Bob Swain, the chairperson of the Florida Bar Real Property, Probate, and Trust Law Section, said in a statement: “The Task Force will serve as a resource to the Governor and Legislature as they review all aspects of Florida condominium law, development, association operations, and maintenance to determine and recommend if legislative and or regulatory changes should be enacted to minimise the likelihood of a similar tragedy.”

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