Cat Missing from Fla. Condo Collapse Found Alive and Reunited with His Family 2 Weeks Later: 'A Bright Spot'
A cat who was missing after the partial collapse of the Champlain Towers South Condominium last month has been found alive and has been reunited with his family.
On Friday, Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said in a press conference that the feline, named Binx, had lived on the ninth floor of the building and was found while workers on the scene were sorting through the rubble to locate more missing individuals.
"After 16 long and extremely difficult days, I'm happy to be able to share a small piece of good news," Levine Cava told reporters. "Binx, a cat living on the ninth floor of Champlain Towers South, was recently found near the site, and a few hours ago he was reunited with his family."
"Thank you from the bottom of my heart and all of us, who are so happy to have played a role in returning Binx with his family," she added. "I'm glad that this small miracle could bring some light into the lives of a hurting family today, and provide a bright spot for our whole community in the midst of this terrible tragedy."
Earlier on Friday, Gina Nicole Vlasek — co-founder of Florida animal shelter, The Kitty Campus — shared in a Facebook post that a black cat matching Binx's description was brought to the organization by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) the night prior.
"All we needed was a ray of hope in this tragedy… Today was one of the most amazing days..," she wrote. "One of the survivors came to see the cat and to determine if it was her families [sic] cat and IT WAS!"
"We are so grateful to be able to help in any small way," Vlasek added. "These families lost so much but our south Florida communities team work [sic] was able to give them this. Thank you!"
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According to The Miami Herald, Binx belongs to Angela and Edgar Gonzalez, who lived in one of the condominium units with their two daughters, Deven and Tayler, alongside their family dog, Daisy.
Tayler was not in the building at the time of the collapse, per the publication, but Angela and Deven were. The two ended up being among the first to be pulled from the rubble after the building's fall.
Angela and Deven were later hospitalized, while Edgar currently remains missing, the outlet reported.
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"They were, at great risk to themselves, searching inside those units that had been indicated that might have pets and searching very thoroughly," Levine Cava told the Herald. "Doorways were opened, other means for the pets to escape the building if they were able."
During a Saturday morning press conference, Levine Cava noted that the official death toll from the condo collapse has now risen to 86, with 62 victims identified and 61 next-of-kin notifications made.
Overall, 211 people have been accounted for while 43 others remain "potentially unaccounted for," Cava continued, adding that the numbers will likely continue to change now that search-and-rescue efforts have transitioned into a recovery mission.