Death Toll Rises To 24 As Rescue Crews Prepare To Demolish Building

Topline

At least 24 people are now confirmed dead while another 124 remain missing at the site of a condominium collapse in Surfside, Florida, officials said Saturday, as rescue efforts continue more than a week after the incident and officials prepare to demolish uncollapsed parts of the 12-story building as early as Sunday.

Key Facts

Two more bodies were recovered Friday night, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said in a press conference.

Some 124 people are still unaccounted for, falling from 145 on Friday after an audit found some names were listed more than once and some believed to be missing had turned up safe.

Workers hope to demolish parts of the building that are still standing on Sunday morning to prevent the structure from falling onto search-and-rescue crews, the Associated Press reported.

Search and rescue efforts are ongoing, and Miami-Dade officials say they’ll continue searching until all missing people are accounted for.

Search crews have occasionally faced snags: Efforts had to be called off for 15 hours on Thursday due to concerns over how unstable the debris pile is, which could cause further complications in the future, and workers were delayed last weekend due to a smoldering fire in the rubble.

Crucial Quote

“We’re doing everything we can to move forward with demolition as soon as we have a final path to do so,” Cava said Saturday.

Key Background

A massive section of the condo collapsed at around 1:30 a.m. on June 24, just days before the building’s owners were set to start payments on a repair job. The cause of the 40-year-old building’s collapse is still unknown, but there were numerous signs its structure was not in good shape. A 2018 inspection report found “major structural damage” on the building, while photos showed crumbling concrete and leakage from the condo’s pool in the days before the collapse. Another report made by an engineering firm last year “yielded some curious results” after examining the building’s concrete, but it’s not clear exactly what the firm was referring to, according to the Miami Herald. The building was also just at the beginning of a recertification process required for buildings over 40 years old.

Surprising Fact

President Joe Biden visited the site on Thursday and promised the federal government would completely cover the cost for the first 30 days of search and rescue operations. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), usually a major critic of the Biden Administration, heaped praise on the federal government’s response to the collapse. “You guys have not only been supportive at the federal level, but we’ve had no bureaucracy,” DeSantis said on Thursday.

What To Watch For

The first hurricane of the 2021 season—Hurricane Elsa—formed Friday morning while moving through the Windward Islands. The National Hurricane Center’s projected path shows the storm impacting south Florida by the middle of next week, potentially impacting search and rescue efforts. But forecasters caution the track at this point “remains low confidence.”

Further Reading

Death toll rises to 20 as two bodies recovered overnight at Surfside condo collapse (Miami Herald)

Condo owners in Surfside building were facing assessments for $15 million worth of repairs (CNN)

Biden Officially Planning To Visit Surfside After Building Collapse (Forbes)

Hurricane Elsa: First Hurricane Of The Year Declared Over Caribbean As Tropical Storm Strengthens (Forbes)

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