SURFSIDE, Florida – Two weeks after the collapse of a massive waterfront condo building, workers dug through the rubble Thursday, knowing that any faint hope of finding survivors had been abandoned.
The death toll rose to 60 with the discovery of six more bodies, said Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava on Thursday morning. She said 35 had been identified.
A few hours earlier, at midnight, the focus officially shifted to recovering the remains. Rescue teams removed rescue dogs and sound equipment. At around 1:20 a.m., work was briefly interrupted for a minute’s silence to mark two weeks after the breathtaking collapse.
“It has officially been two weeks since this unthinkable and unprecedented tragedy shook our community and the world,” Levine Cava said at a press conference on Thursday. “The work continues with all speed and urgency.”
Two weeks after the Surfside tragedy: The death toll rises, the reality of loss falls
Levine Cava said 80 people were missing and officials held on to hope some of them were not in the Champlain Tower South when it collapsed. Levine Cava insisted the detectives continue to pursue clues to identify residents who may have been elsewhere.
Miami-Dade deputy fire chief Raide Jadallah told families in a private meeting that after searching all the rubble areas, officials concluded that it was next to impossible to find living people.
“Our only responsibility at this point is to bring about the closure,” he said, adding that workers concluded that there was “no chance of life”.
Governor Ron DeSantis said he was working with lawmakers to provide tax breaks and other assistance to survivors.
“We want to do everything we can for the survivors and family members and get them on their feet as quickly as possible,” said DeSantis. “Cameras will run out of here pretty soon, but we know the need will continue.”
It wasn’t clear how long the search for human remains would take. Miami-Dade fire chief Alan Cominsky said he expected it to be a few more weeks.
Dennis Dirkmaat, professor of anthropology and chair of the Department of Applied and Forensic Sciences at Mercyhurst University, said he expected crews will use heavy equipment to methodically lift material from the rubble, place it in containers, and look for evidence of human Investigate remains.
He said the process would likely repeat itself when the crews move to the following floors.
“It’s still a process, a slow, arduous process, to remove all of this debris. And so it will take a while, ”he said.
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Surfside officials struggled to control the extent of the tragedy. City Mayor Charles Burkett said Wednesday that Surfside “had many steps to go through” before it could foresee a moment of healing or closure.
“It doesn’t leave either of us alone,” said Burkett. “This is a catastrophe on a global scale … and it happened at Surfside. And that’s what we’re going to have to deal with. And I’m not sure how to deal with it.”
Bacon reported from Arlington, Virginia. Contributors: Antonio Fins and Mark Woods, Palm Beach Post; The Associated Press