Miami Condo Collapse Death Toll Rises to 9 as More Victims Are Identified: This 'Is Very Difficult'
"Our teams have been working around the clock as always to search for survivors, they have not stopped," said Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava
The official death toll from the partial collapse of the Champlain Towers South Condo in Surfside, Florida, has now risen to nine as more victims from the tragic incident have been identified. 156 people continue to remain unaccounted for as rescue efforts move forward.
Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava confirmed the updated numbers in a press conference Sunday morning.
"We were able to recover four additional bodies in the rubble, as well as additional human remains," she explained. "As of today, one victim passed away in the hospital and we've recovered eight more victims on sight."
Levine Cava provided further detail in another press conference Saturday night. "Our top priority continues to be search and rescue and saving any lives that we can. And our brave firefighters are telling us that that's the right thing to do, and we stand with them," she began. "Our teams have been working around the clock as always to search for survivors, they have not stopped."
On Saturday, police also identified four of the initial five victims from the incident. Alongside Stacie Fang, who was identified on Friday, Antonio Lozano, 83, Gladys Lozano, 79, and Manuel LaFont, 54, were named.
"Please keep their families and loved ones in your prayers," police wrote on social media.
During the Saturday night press conference, Miami-Dade Fire Chief Alan Cominsky said rescuers were continuing with their "aggressive search and rescue strategy."
"We were able to contain the fire and minimize the smoke earlier this morning ... and we've continued our search and rescue efforts," he said. "Currently we're searching the entire debris field. We separated into multiple sections and we're actively — with our five task force that we rotate through — we actively are applying our search and rescue techniques."
"We'll continue going through this as hard as we can. I'm very proud of our task force members, I'm very proud of Miami-Dade Fire Rescue and all our activities that we've done," Cominsky added. "We're gonna continue searching and hopefully with a positive outcome."
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On Friday evening, a 2018 report surfaced about warnings from an engineer about "major structural damage" at the Florida condominium complex.
Among a series of documents released by Surfside, the engineering report noted damage to the concrete slab below the pool deck, as well as "abundant" damage to columns, beams, and walls of the parking garage located below the building, according to The New York Times.
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The building's management association had previously revealed some, but not all, of the building's issues in the aftermath of the collapse, the Times reported, adding that the damage done is most likely caused by water leaks and "years of exposure to the corrosive salt air" in the state.
"Failure to replace the waterproofing in the near future will cause the extent of the concrete deterioration to expand exponentially," consultant engineer Frank Morabito wrote in the report, according to NBC News.
An official cause of the collapse is under investigation and has yet to be determined.