Fla. Condo Collapse Search Turns from Rescue to Recovery Mission: 'There's Zero Chance of Survival'
Despite hope that search and rescue teams would be able to pull additional survivors from the rubble, officials in Florida have announced that the scene in Surfside, where a large condo building partially collapsed, has turned from a search and rescue mission into a recovery effort.
The announcement came during a press conference on Wednesday evening, 13 days after the 12-story complex collapsed around 2 a.m. local time on June 24. During the conference, Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said they made the decision with "profound sadness" and called it a "difficult decision."
"We have all asked God for a miracle, so the decision to transition from rescue to recovery is an extremely difficult one," Cava said. There will be a moment of silence in front of the building around 7 p.m. local time before the transition to recovery officially takes place at midnight, she added.
Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said the possibility of someone still being alive beneath the rubble is "near zero," but he had not lost hope "for a miracle."
According to the New York Times, officials met with the families of the missing before making the announcement public on Wednesday.
"Just based on the facts, there's zero chance of survival," Assistant Chief Ray Jadallah of Miami-Dade Fire Rescue told the families in a private briefing, the outlet reported.
During a press conference days after the collapse, Jadallah said firefighters were listening for human sounds to find areas to concentrate on. But, ultimately, the only survivors were retrieved from the rubble hours after the building fell.
Among those pulled to safety was Jonah Handler, a 15-year-old high school baseball player, ABC affiliate WPLG reported.
The teen's mother, Stacie Fang, was also pulled from the rubble, according to the outlet, though she later died.
According to the Times, as of Wednesday, 86 people remain unaccounted for and 54 have been confirmed dead.
Though the cause of the collapse remains unclear, Surfside Vice Mayor Tina Paul previously told The Washington Post that the building had passed inspection just a day earlier.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has said that engineers will investigate the cause of the collapse, but that answers might take time. "You're not gonna have those answers immediately, but I know that they are going to be working diligently to do that," he said following the building's collapse.