Confirmed deaths rose to 90 in rescue efforts in the Miami Beach condominium collapse as crews continued to rifle the rubble more than two weeks after the Champlain Towers South collapsed in the middle of the night.
At least 71 of the victims were duly identified with dependents’ notices made available to their families, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said Sunday morning. Search efforts have accelerated over the past week after officials demolished part of the building that was still standing, preventing teams from accessing part of the heap of rubble.
An estimated 31 people remain missing.
Officials said Saturday that the number of victims recovered increased because crews were able to remove a large amount of debris from the heap. An estimated 14 million pounds of concrete was removed, Cava told reporters on Sunday.
Cava also thanked the international crew who had flown in to assist local authorities in the recovery effort, particularly an Israeli team who offered their assistance. In gratitude for her work, she handed the team’s commander the keys to the county, the mayor said.
“Above all, we wanted to greet the Israeli team before they left today in recognition of their untiring commitment and compassionate service to our community and the families and survivors of this tragedy,” said Cava.
Police are working with crews to catalog any personal items that are recovered while teams search the rubble to return it to families. Detectives work with families not only to find out who might be missing in the breakdown, but also to determine what items, including family heirlooms or those of religious significance, may be outstanding.
Sunday was Day 18 as the Champlain Towers South unexpectedly gave way and crashed to the ground around 1:30 p.m. ET.
Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said the engineers studying Champlain Towers North about a block from the collapsed building expected some test results to be returned soon.
“The first results with concrete are that the concrete strength is very good and at or above what it should be,” said Burkett. “You analyze the content and substance of the concrete, and that will take a little longer.”
The cause of the June 24 collapse is still unclear, although documents released after the accident included a 2018 report highlighting an engineer’s concerns that the building had “major structural damage.” The engineer said his results showed that there were “copious cracks” and crumbs in the condominium’s underground parking garage.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology and local authorities are investigating what caused the partial collapse. An audit is underway in the Miami-Dade area to assess the structural integrity of similar buildings, particularly those that are undergoing 40 year recertification.