Recovery workers pause for moment of silence in Surfside condo collapse
Kendall Tietz, DCNF
Recovery workers at the site of the collapsed condominium in Surfside, Florida, paused their search Thursday morning around 1:20 a.m. for a moment of silence to recognize the two-week anniversary of the tragic event, the Miami-Dade mayor said at a press conference.
The death toll is now at 60 and 80 people remain unaccounted for, Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said at a news conference. The operation was shifted from a search-and-rescue to a recovery mission at midnight on Thursday, but rescuers said they have no plans to pause search efforts.
Assistant Chief Ray Jadallah of Miami-Dade Fire Rescue told families Wednesday that “ based on the facts, there’s zero chance of survival.”
“The work continues with all speed and urgency,” Levine Cava said during the conference. “We are working around the clock to recover victims and to bring closure to the families as fast as we possibly can.”
Detectives are in the process of verifying that those listed as missing were actually in the building when it collapsed, the Associated Press reported. Crews are also collecting and setting aside personal items recovered from the rubble that they hope to return to families, Levine Cava said.
Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz said she was working with various agencies, including NIST, SBA, FEMA and OSHA to get victims the help they need, especially when “the cameras’ turn off” and media coverage subsides.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said he has “ordered all our folks to suspend any type of property tax enforcement” and waive any law necessary under the state of emergency. He also met with families Thursday to discuss any of their outstanding needs and said he planned to funnel charitable donations that have flooded in to help them.
Today, I met w/ Surfside families, first responders & local officials to learn how Florida can continue to support & assist those impacted by the Champlain Towers South tragedy. Florida has united around Surfside & we’ll continue our work to ensure the community is taken care of. pic.twitter.com/BDcZqUgQas
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) July 8, 2021
Rescuers’ “sole responsibility at this point is to bring closure,” Jadallah told families during a private briefing on Wednesday, the AP reported. He said at a separate briefing that the crews remained committed to the job and were willing to do whatever was necessary.
The recovery effort will likely take several weeks, according to Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Chief Alan Cominsky, the AP reported. Authorities are planning an investigation into the building’s collapse and Champlain Towers South families have filed at least six lawsuits, the AP reported.
Wasserman Schultz said her job is to “help them, if not ever become whole again, to make sure that we can start to piece back together the shards of their life that have been blown apart.”