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Rescuers have found four additional victims at the building collapse site in Surfside, bringing the death toll to 94.
Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava gave an update on recovery efforts on Monday.
“We can’t put an outside date on it, something in the window of 14 to 21 days,” she said, “hopefully on the shorter side of that. We are making great progress on the pile.”
Levine Cava said recovery efforts could begin to wind down sometime next month, as only a couple dozen people remain unaccounted for following the June 24 partial collapse.
“As of yesterday, it was 12 million pounds of concrete that had been removed, and of course, we are continuing to de-layer and access lower portions of the building,” she said.
But the mayor said it’s becoming harder to identify victims as quickly as before, a painful reality for families with loved ones still missing.
“The process of making identifications has become more difficult as time goes on,” she said.
Nearly 100 victims have been removed from the collapse site, most of whom have been identified.
“I think they truly understand the point where we are right now. Human remains are difficult to identify. We ask for their patience,” she said.
What’s happening more quickly, however, is the ability for crews to get to areas and items not seen before now.
Spilled gasoline ignited a fire as a car was removed. It was extinguished, and no one was injured.
But the work kept on, even if away from the debris.
Miami-Dade Police Director Alfredo Ramirez III said the Property and Evidence Section is working “around the clock to ensure all recovered personal property and family heirlooms are treated with the utmost respect and consideration for faith.”
Images show crews handling recovered items from the disaster area.
While the weather forced them to take a pause in the search efforts Monday, first responders said a small COVID outbreak didn’t impact their work.
Several people at the site, including Miami-Dade Commissioner Jose “Pepe” Diaz and some task force members, tested positive for the coronavirus.
“That was contained, and there was significant contact tracing conducted,” Levine Cava said.
Miami-Dade Police said they’re also going to tighten security at the scene of the collapse. They said nothing happened that led to the decision, but rather it’s out of respect for the victims’ families.
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