Searchers are continuing their frantic search in hopes of finding anyone who might still be alive inside the collapsed remains of the 12 story condo building in Surf Side, Florida. Recur crews are very aware of the clock ticking as each hour that passes also takes away precious hope that so many of the friends and families of the missing are desperately clinging to.
Wednesday evening, in an update from officials, they confirmed that 6 additional remains were recovered, bringing the death toll to 18. Currently, there are 145 missing.
They also confirmed that two of the victims were children. A four-year-old and a 10-year-old are the youngest victims to be recovered.
Earlier in the day, crews searching for survivors in the rubble built a ramp that should allow the use of heavier equipment, potentially accelerating the removal of concrete that “could lead to incredibly good news events,” the state fire marshal said Wednesday.
Since the sudden collapse of the 12-story Champlain Towers South last week in Surfside, rescuers have been working on peeling back layers of concrete on the pancaked building without disturbing the unstable pile of debris.
Rescuers spent the night shift Tuesday evening and into Wednesday morning, building a ramp so that a crain could be used on sections that prior to, was not accessible. He is hopeful that with the addition of the crain, chances are high to possibly find survivors in pockets of space within the debris pile.
“We hope to start seeing some significant improvement in regards to the possibility of (finding) any voids that we cannot see,” Jadallah said.
In an interview with Miami television station WSVN, State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis described the ramp as “a Herculean effort” that would allow crews “to leverage massive equipment to remove mass pieces of concrete,” which could lead to good results.
“So you can really make some serious rapid headway just because of the sheer hydraulic forces this thing can exert versus a human being with hand tools,” Patronis said.
However, that hope turned to frustration on Thursday when search-and-rescue operations at the collapse of a Florida condominium building were halted due to structural concerns that the rest of the building could fall, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said at a press conference Thursday.
“We’re doing everything we can to ensure that the safety of our first responders is paramount, and will continue search-and-rescue operations as soon as it is safe to do so,” Levine Cava told reporters.
Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Chief Alan Cominsky said the halt in operations was based on “additional concerns for building stability” identified by subject matter experts.
This includes six to twelve inches of movement, a large column hanging from the building that could fall and damage support columns in the underground garage, and slight movement in the concrete floor slabs in the south side of the structure in the north and south corner of the building that “could cause additional failure of the building,” according to Cominsky.
Thus far, officials have been concerned an underground parking garage could collapse under the weight of heavy equipment, so they decided to build the makeshift limestone ramp, Patronis said. He said dogs are used to check for survivors in the area where the machine works, and then the nibbler is sent in, but this operation has now been put on hold as engineers are rapidly assesing the safety of the site and potential for further collapse of the remaining structure.
President Joe Biden is also visiting the site and meeting with Florida officials today.
Levine Cava told reporters that President Joe Biden’s visit to the area later Thursday will have no impact on search-and-rescue operations.
“I want to stress that President Biden’s visit today will have no impact on what happens at the site for search and rescue operation will continue as soon as it is safe to do so,” Levine Cava said at the press conference.