The death toll in the Surfside condo collapse has risen to 97

The death toll in the Surfside condo collapse has risen to 97

Posted: Jul 15, 2021 10:41 PM
Updated: Jul 15, 2021 10:41 PM

Rescue crews have recovered 97 bodies from the rubble of the Surfside, Florida, building collapse; and though they have made great progress, there is still more work to be done.

Ninety-two victims in the collapse have been identified and 92 families have been notified, according to a Thursday news release from the Miami-Dade Mayor's Office.

"At this step in the recovery process it has become increasingly difficult to identify victims, and we are relying heavily on the work of the medical examiner's office and the scientific, technical process of identifying human remains," a news release said. "This work becomes more difficult with the passage of time although our teams are working as hard and as fast as they can."

Moving forward the county says it will only be reporting the number of victims who have been identified, "out of respect for the families who are still waiting and to ensure we are reporting the most accurate possible numbers."

The remains of Champlain Towers South, once too risky for heavy machinery and threatened by the remaining structure looming over rescuers, is now nearly level to the ground as excavators remove piles of debris.

According to Miami-Dade County, more than 22 million pounds of concrete and debris have been removed.

The Miami-Dade Police Department identified six additional victims of the collapse Thursday:

  • Maria Notkin, 81
  • Michelle Anna Pazos, 23
  • Mihai Radulescu, 82
  • Valeria Barth, 14
  • Miguel Leonardo Kaufman, 65
  • Rosa Saez, 70

Notkin, Pazos, Radulescu and Kaufman were recovered Friday. Valeria and Saez were recovered Sunday, MDPD said.

"On the original collapse site we are almost at the bottom," Alvaro Zabaleta, MDPD police spokesperson, told CNN. "Does that mean we are almost done with the search? No. Until we clear the entire site and find no more human remains we are not done."

Although there is no longer hope of finding survivors in the rubble, crews have been working nearly non-stop since the collapse on June 24, aside from intermittent issues related to dangerous conditions brought by weather and shifting debris.

Officials in the area promised victims' families to work diligently until all of their loved ones are recovered, a task that is becoming more time sensitive.

"The process of making identifications has become more difficult as time goes on," Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said. "We must rely heavily on the work of the medical examiner's office ... to identify human remains. The process is very methodical and it's careful and it does take time," she said.

In the search, 240 people are accounted for, 97 victims have been recovered, 90 of which have been identified and 88 next of kin have been notified, a release from Miami-Dade County said. Eight people remain unaccounted for, and all of them have open missing persons reports with the Miami-Dade Police Department.

The site has been both a place of taxing work and solemn reunion.

The tragedy has affected victims from multiple Latin American countries, including Colombia, Venezuela, Uruguay and Paraguay.

Surfside -- a small, eclectic town of about 6,000 people -- is also home to a large population of Orthodox Jews. Following the collapse when families were reuniting, it was common to hear a mix of conversations in Hebrew, Spanish, English and Portuguese.

The diverse community came together, attempting to grasp for strength in faith. Synagogues and churches opened their arms for emergency prayer services after the collapse. Vigils were held for the missing, and many prayed, sobbed and hugged with the tower's ruins visible in the background.

"It is obvious that this has become more than a collapsed building site. It's a holy site," Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said earlier this week.

Frantic 911 calls from the first moments of the collapse

The 911 calls during the first moments of the deadly collapse reveal chaos and confusion among residents and witnesses as the building came down.

"It seems like something underground, everything exploded," one caller told dispatchers, adding that it seemed like an earthquake.

Another caller, who told dispatchers they were in a parking garage, begged for help.

"I know the police are here already. Can somebody help me get out please?" the caller pleaded. "I was able to escape, but I'm outside in the parking lot. If the building comes down, it will come down on my head."

One caller told dispatchers their sister lived in the building, but was confused as to what happened and how people would get rescued.

"I don't know if something happened to it, but half of the building's not there anymore," the caller said. "There's two people, they are, they're alive but it, they can't get out because there's no building on the other side of their apartment."

CNN obtained and transcribed these frantic phone calls about three weeks after Champlain Towers South came down.

Collapse spurs reviews of building safety

The deadly collapse has spurred reviews of building safety across South Florida, as officials and residents scramble to figure out the vulnerability of aging structures.

Miami-Dade requires building owners to hire an engineer to inspect their structures every 10 years after they turn 40 -- a requirement first passed after a collapse of a Miami office building in 1974 that killed seven people. Champlain Towers South was set to hit that 40-year mark this year.

The latest city to conduct a review is Boca Raton -- a city with a population of close to 100,000 -- where Mayor Scott Singer said Tuesday his city council is planning to institute a building recertification process that is similar to protocols in Miami-Dade and Broward counties.

But Singer noted that there will be key differences, including a shorter timeline to recertify buildings and greater reporting requirements.

The mayor added that officials are considering requiring buildings to be recertified after 30 years or fewer, but the details will be discussed further in the next few weeks as the city council introduces the measure.

"Our staff has been doing comprehensive inventory of our buildings. But not to serve only family residences but also our commercial buildings to figure out what's the most appropriate," Singer said at the live-streamed town meeting Tuesday. "I thought it was very important that we be proactive, that we put in more stringent requirements, and we ensure people that we're taking greater steps for their safety."

Boca Raton is located 38 miles up the Atlantic Coast from Surfside.

Shortly after the collapse, Levine Cava, the Miami-Dade County mayor, said officials will be reviewing buildings over 40 years old and more than five stories tall, "making sure everything is in order" with proper certification.

In nearby Sunny Isles Beach, Vice Mayor Larisa Svechin said inspections on older condo buildings would start immediately.

And the city of Miami sent a letter to buildings urging new inspections for those more than six stories tall and more than 40 years old.

The-CNN-Wire
™ & © 2021 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 512632

Reported Deaths: 10262
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34853555
DeSoto33162432
Hinds32556641
Jackson24830389
Rankin22442402
Lee16238242
Madison14874283
Jones14086247
Forrest13741259
Lauderdale12249324
Lowndes11286193
Lamar10644140
Pearl River9707244
Lafayette8827143
Hancock7835132
Washington7550169
Oktibbeha7204138
Monroe6989179
Pontotoc6970109
Warren6849178
Panola6746134
Neshoba6726210
Marshall6653141
Bolivar6440151
Union633897
Pike5924156
Alcorn5862107
Lincoln5525136
George510180
Prentiss500884
Tippah490282
Itawamba4829107
Scott477499
Adams4766125
Tate4748116
Leflore4723144
Copiah455895
Yazoo455591
Simpson4543117
Wayne442772
Covington432895
Sunflower4299106
Marion4265112
Coahoma4227109
Leake413790
Newton395581
Tishomingo381793
Grenada3775109
Stone365666
Jasper340166
Attala337790
Winston317792
Chickasaw313367
Clay311878
Clarke301195
Calhoun284449
Holmes271289
Smith268952
Yalobusha243747
Tallahatchie231453
Greene224749
Walthall221366
Lawrence217840
Perry213356
Amite209557
Webster205148
Noxubee188642
Montgomery181557
Carroll174441
Jefferson Davis173643
Tunica163239
Benton152639
Kemper144941
Choctaw136527
Claiborne134238
Humphreys131139
Franklin124929
Quitman107528
Wilkinson105939
Jefferson96834
Sharkey65121
Issaquena1957
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 844951

Reported Deaths: 16115
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1161002006
Mobile741871379
Madison53279732
Shelby38325368
Baldwin38068589
Tuscaloosa36009641
Montgomery34482781
Lee25550263
Calhoun22585518
Morgan22451406
Etowah20013517
Marshall18777316
Houston17727425
St. Clair16875358
Limestone16135218
Cullman16044303
Elmore15904294
Lauderdale14968306
Talladega14189299
DeKalb12967269
Walker12020380
Blount10714192
Autauga10517157
Jackson10157194
Coffee9414192
Colbert9334208
Dale9018191
Tallapoosa7254201
Russell707765
Chilton7018170
Escambia6955143
Covington6932195
Franklin6340108
Chambers5783142
Marion5401130
Dallas5285209
Pike5118109
Clarke484986
Lawrence4826129
Winston4780110
Geneva4642136
Bibb434094
Barbour369480
Butler3434100
Marengo342393
Monroe337066
Randolph334367
Pickens333188
Fayette330085
Henry320666
Hale318189
Cherokee317563
Crenshaw260477
Washington256952
Cleburne254460
Lamar251253
Clay250869
Macon244764
Conecuh192762
Coosa184947
Lowndes178168
Wilcox177438
Bullock152645
Perry141840
Sumter139241
Greene130245
Choctaw93228
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Clear
36° wxIcon
Hi: 63° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 31°
Columbus
Clear
36° wxIcon
Hi: 62° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 32°
Oxford
Clear
30° wxIcon
Hi: 60° Lo: 32°
Feels Like: 30°
Starkville
Clear
34° wxIcon
Hi: 59° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 34°
High pressure will continue to dominate our weather forecast for our Saturday. This will keep us filled with plenty of sunshine in our weather forecast for our Saturday.
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather