Tally of missing in Florida condo collapse falls to 128 after audit
Authorities in Florida on Friday revised the count of people missing in the Surfside condominium collapse to 128 from 145, after eliminating duplicate names and noting that some who had been reported missing had turned up safe.
They also announced the recovery of four more bodies, including the 7-year-old daughter of a Miami firefighter. That raised the confirmed death toll to 22.
Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said that in some cases, detectives were able to contact people who had been reported as missing and found that members of their families were safe, too. That pushed the number of people who have been accounted for up to 188 and reduced the number of missing, she said. In other cases, English and Hebrew names had been offered for the same missing person, officials said.
“So this is very, very good news,” she said, adding that the numbers are expected to keep changing because detectives are continually reviewing the list and verifying reports.
The discovery of the remains of the 7-year-old girl — whom Miami Mayor Francis Suarez described as “a member of our fire family” — was especially hard on rescuers, Levine Cava said.
“It was truly different and more difficult for our first responders. These men and women are paying an enormous human toll each and every day, and I ask that all of you please keep them in your thoughts and prayers,” she said at a news conference.
A memorial in Surfside, Fla., has become a place to pay tribute to those who lived in the condominium that, without warning, fell in the middle of the night.
The mayor said she signed an emergency order to demolish the remaining part of the building once engineers have determined that it is safe to do so, and that demolition will proceed quickly. Officials previously said it would be weeks before the demolition could be scheduled.
No one has been found alive since the first hours after the June 24 collapse of the Champlain Towers South condominium.
During a meeting Friday with relatives of the missing, Miami-Dade Assistant Fire Chief Raide Jadallah said only one missing person has been heard during the search. A woman’s voice was detected until 10 or 11 a.m. on the morning of the collapse, which occurred around 1:30 a.m. Rescuers were unable to reach her, and no human sounds have been heard from within the rubble since.
Jadallah prepared the families of the missing for a possible suspension of the search if Hurricane Elsa — now in the eastern Caribbean — brings strong winds to South Florida that would make the work too dangerous to continue.
Some rescue workers who are staying in tents will be moved to cruise ships, where they can safely ride out a storm, Jadallah said. About 600 first responders will stay on the Royal Caribbean ship Explorer of the Seas, the cruise line said. The ship, which can accommodate more than 3,000 passengers, began housing rescue teams Thursday and likely will continue to do so for the next month.
Friday’s announcements came the day after concerns about the structure’s instability prompted a 15-hour halt to the search for survivors. Crews noticed widening cracks and up to a foot of movement in a large column.
The president and first lady flew to Florida to meet with first responders and families of those killed or still missing in the condo collapse last week.
The cause of the collapse is under investigation. A 2018 engineering report found that the building’s ground-floor pool deck was resting on a concrete slab that had “major structural damage” and needed extensive repairs. The report also found “abundant cracking” of concrete columns, beams and walls in the parking garage.
Just two months before the building came down, the president of its board wrote a letter to residents saying that structural problems identified in the 2018 inspection had “gotten significantly worse” and that major repairs would cost at least $15.5 million. With bids for the work pending, the building suddenly collapsed.
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