SURFSIDE, FLA. (WSVN) - Miami-Dade Mayor Danielle Levine-Cava confirmed that nine bodies have been recovered to date from the the rubble of the partial collapse of a condominum building in Surfside.
During a news conference Sunday evening, Levine Cava said four additional victims of those already confirmed dead have been identified.
Miami-Dade Police have identified the victims as:
- 80-year-old Leon Oliwkowicz
- 26-year-old Luis Bermudez
- 46-year-old Anna Ortiz
- 74-year-old Christina Beatriz Elvira
The other four victims who were previously identified are:
- 54-year-old Stacie Fang, the mother of survivor Jonah Handler, the teenage boy who was pulled from the rubble by rescuers
- 54-year-old Manuel Lafont
- 83-year-old Antonio Lozano
- 79-year-old Gladys Lozano
The latter two victims were the uncle and godmother of 7Weather Chief Meteorologist Phil Ferro. They would have celebrated their 59th wedding anniversary in July.
Meanwhile, the strenuous work continued this weekend for rescuers battling mountainous chunks of the collapsed building, the South Florida weather and a stubborn blaze.
The fire began burning on the fourth floor of the building on Friday, one day after the collapse, and added a new layer of difficulty for rescuers in the desperate race to find survivors.
Saturday night, fire officials confirmed crews were able to contain the blaze. How it ignited remains unknown, but officials believe it was likely electrical.
7SkyForce hovered above a K-9 unit searching for signs of life, as well as a large white crane placed near the four-story mound of debris. Crews have also put up a slide to make it easier for crews to drop down debris.
“Their bravery, their selflessness, their total dedication to this mission. These people live to save lives,” said Levine Cava.
To aid in that mission, Miami-Dade Fire Rescue crews have built a trench in the debris that’s 125 long, 20 feet wide and 40 feet deep. They hope it will help them find and get to anyone who may still be trapped.
When asked how crews are ensuring the trench is secure, MDFR Fire Chief Alan Cominsky said, “That’s another huge concern.”
Officials said engineers are with the search teams to ensure they’re safe.
On Sunday, Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said the rain subsided, making it easier for crews to continue their search.
“The work continues. We got waves of search-and-rescue teams. We’ve got teams now from Israel and Mexico. We’ve had calls from South Africa,” he said. “We just gotta get lucky and hope the sun keeps shining, and hope that fire stays out.”
As of Sunday night, nine people are confirmed dead, 152 remain unaccounted for, and 134 others have been accounted for, authorities said.
Levine Cava said the process of identifying victims is exceptionally hard.
“We’re going to be relying on DNA testing, and that is why we’ve already been gathering DNA samples from the family members,” she said. “This allows us to do rapid DNA testing on site for bodies that we find.”
On Sunday, the families of the victims were bussed close to the site to allow them to pray.
The South Tower’s sister building, the North Tower, is located a block away. The buildings have a similar design and were both built in 1981.
As to why the South Tower collapsed, Sunday brought no answers.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said the focus is still on finding survivors and helping the families of the missing.
“Those are the core ones, but then that next most important thing is, why did this happen?” he said.
Burkett said North Tower residents should be relocated out of an abundance of caution. An inspection will be done, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency is working with residents regarding their ability to move and making arrangements for them.
As of Sunday afternoon, the Support Surfside fund has raised more than $1.2 million.
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