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Massive Apartment Building Collapses Near Miami Beach

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Apartment building near Miami partially collapses, emergency crews at scene

One witness said the collapse felt like an earthquake

Apartment building collapse near Miami Beach

Emergency crews respond to Surfside, Florida, rescues taking place.

Dozens of rescuers in South Florida are searching for survivors Thursday after an apartment building partially collapsed, prompting a massive emergency response. 

Surfside police told Fox News it is unclear how many people were inside the building at the time, but a firefighter on the scene could be heard saying there are multiple casualties.

"Over 80 MDFR units including #TRT (Technical Rescue Teams) are on scene with assistance from municipal fire departments," Miami Dade Fire Rescue said in a tweet.

The scene of a collapsed building in Surfside, Fla., just north of Miami Beach.

The scene of a collapsed building in Surfside, Fla., just north of Miami Beach. (WSVN)

Firefighters pulled at least one boy from the debris, according to photos online. A reporter from CBS Miami said at at least nine people were transported to the hospital.

The building address is 8777 Collins Avenue, according to Surfside police. The sea-view condo development was built in 1981 in the southeast corner of Surfside, on the beach. It had a few two-bedroom units currently on the market, with asking prices of $600,000 to $700,000, police said.

One witness who was on vacation in the city with his family told Fox News he was next door when it suddenly sounded like a tornado or earthquake. 

"It was the craziest thing I ever heard in my life," he said.

He added that he believed much of the building was occupied.

Miami Dade Fire Rescue is conducting search and rescue. Authorities had no word yet on casualties, or details of how many people lived in the building. (AP)

Miami Dade Fire Rescue is conducting search and rescue. Authorities had no word yet on casualties, or details of how many people lived in the building. (AP)

He estimated that the collapse occurred at about 1:20 a.m. 

Joel Franco, a Miami-based freelance journalist, was live-tweeting from the scene. He noted that an urban search-and-rescue truck was at the scene. He posted another photo that he said showed about a dozen people who were rescued. Two were embracing. He posted, "This is tough to document."

A bedroom is seen in part of the collapsed building.

A bedroom is seen in part of the collapsed building. (SOURCE: WSVN)

"I did see some family members being rescued by a crane from the Miami-Dade Fire Department," he said.

The building is one block away from where Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner are leasing a condominium, according to The Wall Street Journal.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.                                                                                                                                                         SEE VIDEOS, TWEET      https://www.foxnews.com/us/surfside-florida-apartment-partially-collapses-emergency-crews-at-scene

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8 hours ago, rnetzlof said:

It looks like about half the building collapsed. See attached aerial view.


Yes.  As that section is connected so it went down like domino’s. So sad. Couldn’t imagine it.  I’ll be following to see what happened.  Maybe sink hole or just a bad structure. Hopefully time will tell. 

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Miami building collapse: Possible causes explained by area expert

Miami's salty coastal air could have facilitated the erosion of steel, expert said

Florida Lt. Gov. gives update on Miami building collapse

Fifty one people are reportedly unaccounted for after a Miami condo collapsed in Surfside, FL. Jeanette Nunez, the lieutenant governor of Florida., provides updates. 

A condominium collapse in Surfside, Florida, on Thursday morning has left many wondering what caused the massive implosion, which has so far killed one person and left 99 people unaccounted for.

Miami-Dade County authorities are currently conducting an investigation into the Champlain Towers South Condo collapse, though an official cause behind the devastation has yet to be determined.


An area expert has brought forward some ideas as to what could have led the building's facade to crumble to the ground.

Gary Slossberg, founder of the South Florida construction company National Home Building & Remodeling Corp, said he hasn't heard any specific leads as to the cause of the building's fall, but after decades working in the industry, he has his suspicions.

"In a general way, there are many things that could happen. Construction defects or engineering defects," he said, adding that he's not suggesting there were any construction or engineering defects but simply pointing out the possibility. "I think there is some value, and it makes some sense to do periodic inspections."


This aerial photo shows part of the 12-story oceanfront Champlain Towers South Condo that collapsed early Thursday, June 24, 2021 in Surfside, Florida. (Amy Beth Bennett /South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)

Engineering inspections, which happen every five or 10 years, for example, might include removing drywall or other material to expose and inspect steel beams "to make sure they are not eroding away."


He added that salt in Miami's coastal air could potentially facilitate the erosion of steel. Evidence or erosion can appear in rust stains or exposed rebar.

"It's like a cancer," Slossberg said. "By the time you see it, it could be too late."


Items and debris dangle from a section of the oceanfront Champlain Towers South Condo that partially collapsed Thursday, June 24, 2021, in the Surfside area of Miami, Fla. (Susan Stocker/South Florida Sun-Sentinel via AP)

He added, however, that while salt can have a severe impact on coastal buildings, he is not sure how long it would take for salt to erode a building's materials to the point of collapse. 

Solssberg also suggested that if the building were constructed with a "post-tension slab," or a concrete slab that has cables running through it, and one of those cables came loose, that could have led to its destruction. 


"It could take down a whole building," he said. 

Slossberg noted that the condominium, which had two-bedroom units on the market asking between $600,000 and $700,000, was built in 1981, when the county had different construction codes.

"With every hurricane, new construction codes come out. New engineering codes," he said. " … This is [4]0 years later [since the building was constructed]. The codes have changed at least a dozen times. I know they have. So, some of these older buildings are not really built to withstand the type of same weather conditions as when they were built originally."


Fire rescue personnel conduct a search and rescue with dogs through the rubble of the Champlain Towers South Condo after the multistory building partially collapsed in Surfside, Fla., Thursday, June 24, 2021. (David Santiago/Miami Herald via AP)

Another possibility, he said, is that the building's balconies may have had some constructional issues. Many Miami-area buildings, he said, are built with concrete balconies that are "back-pitched," meaning they don't allow water to escape properly after it rains.

"There's a lot of concrete restoration going on, and this is where you see a lot of that rust and rebar coming through the slab between the water sitting there and the salt air — it's just not a good combination," he said. "But again, I don't know if that would take down the whole building. We just don't know what happened."

Slossberg said a number of different factors may have led to the condominium's fall.

Structures in Miami-Dade County that have existed for 40 years or more must undergo a 40-year safety recertification inspection

Following the deadly partial collapse, state Sen. Annette Taddeo called for changes to building inspection rules.

"Buildings need to be inspected much sooner than 40 years, especially in a county where sea-level rise can affect a foundation," she tweeted Thursday.                                         SEE VIDEO , PICTURES     ;    https://www.foxbusiness.com/lifestyle/miami-building-collapse-possible-causes

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I read a report last night that indicated that the building has been listing for a long time having been first noticed in the 90's.  It said that at that time it was listing at a rate of at least 2 millimeters a year.


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Miami high rise collapse: Around-the-clock rescue effort continues as federal team preps for investigation

A National Institute of Standards and Technology team of expert scientists and engineers is expected to deploy to Miami for a firsthand look at the collapse

By Michael Ruiz | Fox News   -- Just in

Search intensifies for signs of life after Florida condo collapse

Fox News correspondent Jonathan Serrie updates on the recovery efforts in Surfside, Fla. on 'Special Report'

Miami first responders and assisting agencies were still conducting a search and rescue operation at the site of a collapsed high-rise apartment building in Surfside, Fla., Friday night as a federal team of experts prepared to deploy from Maryland to inspect the site.

No numbers had changed since Friday morning when Miami-Dade County authorities raised the death toll to four and said 159 people were unaccounted for after the Champlain Towers South building tumbled early Thursday morning.

Only one deceased victim had been identified, 54-year-old Stacie Fang, whose son was pulled from the rubble alive by rescuers in dramatic video taken at the scene

The high rise had been built in 1981 and was due for its first 40-year inspection under local regulations.


While an investigation into the collapse has barely begun, people have begun speculating what may have led to the tragedy.

A federal probe into the cause will likely be conducted by investigators from the National Institute of Standards and Technology, according to Glenn Corbett, a former member of the Federal Advisory Committee of the National Construction Safety Team and a fire protection engineer at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York.

Rescue workers search in the rubble at the Champlain Towers South Condo, Friday, June 25, 2021, in Surfside, Fla. The seaside condominium tower collapsed on Thursday. 

Rescue workers search in the rubble at the Champlain Towers South Condo, Friday, June 25, 2021, in Surfside, Fla. The seaside condominium tower collapsed on Thursday.  (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

He likened NIST to the National Transportation Safety Board, or NTSB, which handles investigations into plane and train crashes -- except for buildings and infrastructure.

Dr. Albert M. Bleakley, an expert on structural and geotechnical engineering at the Florida Institute of Technology, teaches courses that examine the Harbour Cay collapse in Cocoa Beach and the Hyatt Regency walkway collapse, which both occurred in 1981.


In those cases, collapses happened during or shortly after construction due to a combination of design and building errors.

"The Surfside collapse is very different in that the building was OK for around 40 years prior to the collapse," he said. 

Dr. Bleakley also outlined some possible causes, although he reiterated it’s too early to know for sure.

"Parts of the foundation may have settled at different rates, which can cause stresses in the structure," he said. "Concrete could have developed cracks over time which then slowly expanded, like a crack in a windshield."

A 2020 study into land and sea level rise conducted by Dr. Shimon Wdowinski at Florida International University had looked at the Champlain Towers site and determined it was sinking by between 1 and 3 mm a year in the 1990s. That could have sped up, slowed down in the ensuing decades, he explained this week. Or it could have continued unevenly. Still, other cities see significantly larger subsidence without suffering building collapses, FIU noted in a new study.

"When we measure subsidence or when we see movement of the buildings, it’s worth checking why it happens," Wdowinski said. "We cannot say what is the reason for that from the satellite images but we can say there was movement here."

Rescue workers look through the rubble where a wing of a 12-story beachfront condo building collapsed, Thursday, June 24, 2021, in the Surfside area of Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Rescue workers look through the rubble where a wing of a 12-story beachfront condo building collapsed, Thursday, June 24, 2021, in the Surfside area of Miami. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Metal components could have also corroded or rusted after long-term exposure to salty sea air or water, according to Bleakley.

"The building could have been exposed to an unexpected load or combination of loads that overloaded structural elements," he said, "[And renovations or repairs to the building could have inadvertently damaged structural elements."

Whether there is a threat to neighboring buildings or similar high rises up and down the East Coast may not be known until the NIST investigation is complete, Corbett said.

"They’re the federal government’s technical capability in terms of doing an investigation, finding out why the building collapsed and coming up with recommendations for the future," he said.


The investigation will likely look at apparent shifting or settling of the building, possible undermining factors that could have involved the opening of a sinkhole, utility water or even sea water creeping in, and other factors.

The NIST confirmed to Fox News that it is preparing to send a team of six scientists and engineers to Miami. 

They will be tasked with collecting preliminary firsthand data that will then be used to determine whether a full investigation or a study is warranted.

The team will not enter the site until after the search-and-rescue operation comes to an end and the area is deemed safe.

"If a full investigation or study is conducted, its ultimate goal would be to determine the technical cause of the collapse and, if indicated, to recommend changes to building codes, standards and practices, or other appropriate actions to improve the structural safety of buildings," said the agency’s acting director of public affairs, Jennifer Huergo.

The NIST was created under the National Construction Safety Team Act in the wake of the terror attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

The rescue mission is expected to continue at least overnight and could stretch on throughout the weekend, said Corbett, the former NCST adviser, as long as first responders have hope that there may be remaining survivors.

"I see how family members are getting really upset that the pace of the rescue is not going as fast as they’d like, and that’s understandable," he said. "But the fact is, you’ve got a lot of issues going on in terms of safety protocols…not only for the rescuers, but for the people that may be trapped inside."

Bulldozers and cranes could help move debris, he said, but that would put survivors at greater risk of death.

"In this case, it’s not for lack of resources," he said. "There’s over 30 USAR teams across the country."

He was referring to FEMA’s Urban Search and Rescue task force, which has teams in several states, including Florida.

And the Sunshine State’s Task Force One is one of the best in the country, having responded to earthquakes, hurricanes and other disasters across the region, in the Caribbean and in South America, he said.

"These guys in Miami have a lot of expertise with this," he said. "This isn’t their first rodeo."                                                                                                              SEE VIDEO REPORT     ;    https://www.foxnews.com/us/miami-high-rise-collapse-federal-team-preps-for-investigation

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Miami condo collapse: Engineer previously warned of issues, report says

4 dead and at least 159 still missing in Champlain Towers South condo collapse

Search intensifies for signs of life after Florida condo collapse

Fox News correspondent Jonathan Serrie updates on the recovery efforts in Surfside, Fla. on 'Special Report'

Documents released by the Florida town of Surfside show a number of safety issues raised ahead of the 40-year inspection for the condo complex that partially collapsed Thursday. 

City officials released a number of documents online, including evaluations of electrical and mechanical systems, another unverified inspection report, and roof and façade maintenance reports, among others.

One such report paints a picture of a building riddled with possible issues that the Champlain Towers South Condo Board needed to address, and any investigation will likely focus on how much effort the board put into addressing the report’s concerns.

The 2018 report by Morabito Consultants, Inc. (MC) examined the Champlain Towers South condo complex and aimed "to understand and document the extent of structural issues that require repair/and or remediation in the immediate or near future." The report did not indicate any risk of collapse, but it did note the need for repairs to maintain the "structural integrity" of the building.  

Photos from the Morabito Consultants, Inc. report showing damage to the concrete of the Champlain Towers South condo complex in Surfside, Florida. 

Photos from the Morabito Consultants, Inc. report showing damage to the concrete of the Champlain Towers South condo complex in Surfside, Florida. 


The report noted a number of issues, citing previous complaints of flooding "during a hurricane event," possible structural damage to balconies and cracks in the concrete of unit balconies. 

MC examined the roof of the building, according to its report, which it noted as "satisfactory condition" with no "present" leaks, but it did point out some minor cracks and ways to fix them. 


Speculation around the cause of the building’s collapse has so far centered around either how fast the building was sinking into the ground or the roof construction that was occurring at the time. 

The construction noise was so severe that residents had complained, with at least one resident already looking to leave just three months after moving into the building


A 2020 study on sea-level rise and sinking land in buildings in both Miami and Norfolk, Virginia, found that some structures were losing 1 to 3 mm per year since the 1990s. Speculation in the Surfside collapse could likely shift in the days ahead to possibly neglected safety issues.  

Kenneth S. Direktor, a lawyer for the resident association that operates the building, said this week that the repairs had been set to commence, The New York Times reported. The repair plan was drawn up this year in order to address the imminent 40-year inspection. 

The 40-year requirement was enacted after a 1974 building collapse in Miami.                                                                                                                            SEE VIDEO REPORT      ;   https://www.foxnews.com/us/miami-condo-collapse-engineer-warned-issues-report

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Rescue efforts at Surfside condo collapse slowed by ‘very deep’ fire in rubble: ‘This is very frustrating’

by: WFLA 8 On Your Side Staff, Nathaniel Rodriguez, Nexstar Media Wire

Posted:  / Updated: 

SURFSIDE, Fla. (WFLA) – No progress has been made in finding any of the 159 people that went missing in the Champion Towers collapse in Surfside, according to officials in Miami-Dade County.

Rescue efforts have been hampered as a “very deep” fire has spread through the rubble, forcing crews to put it out to make further ventures into the wreckage.

“It’s extremely difficult to locate the source of the fire, so they’ve been working around the clock — these fire rescue teams, these brave men and women under the rubble — to fix this problem,” said Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava.

Cava said crews deployed infrared and sonar technology, foam, and water to combat the flames. A large trench was also created to isolate the fire and help crews find other victims trapped in the building’s remains.

“As we’re removing debris and smoke is increasing, we still haven’t come across anything along a sign of life,” said Alan R. Cominsky, chief of Miami-Dade County Fire Rescue.

Cominsky said there are concerns of air quality, with rescue crews needing to use ventilation fans and breathing apparatuses while searching for victims. However, he also said there is a danger in adding more air to the crevices as it could bolster the fire.

Miami-Dade County Commission Chairman Jose “Pepe” Diaz said firefighters from across the state are working on the rescue effort, switching out to get people out as soon as possible. Both Gov. Ron DeSantis and President Joe Biden have also sent resources to help with the crisis.

“This is very frustrating because we want it all done,” Diaz said. “We want to rescue as many people as possible. We want to get to the bottom of this situation, but we can’t because the process is slow.”

So far, 127 people have been accounted for, with four confirmed deaths.

“We continue to have hope,” Cava said. “We are continuing to search.”

She said there is still hope that there are survivors as the crevices in the rubble are allowing for air flow, but crews need to stabilize the fire first.

In response to questions surrounding the cause of the incident, Cava said local, state, and federal agencies will help with a full investigation into why Champlain Towers South collapsed. When asked about the 2018 report that revealed major damage in the condo’s concrete structure, she said she was not aware of the report.

She also said a county audit is underway to see how many other buildings were built by the developer, Champlain Towers South Associates, but she did know of one building just down the street from the wreckage in Surfside.

According to DeSantis, that sister building was built in 1981 as well, by the same designer.

“I know they are considering potentially evacuating them, but that’s something, you know, ultimately, the mayor is gonna have to make the call on,” he said. “I don’t know if there’s indications that there’s any problem with that building, but just given the similarities, given the same age, they think that may be something so I think he may have an announcement on that today.”

In the meanwhile, officials are holding on to hope to help the families who are suffering.

“Your prayers have been extremely well-received,” Diaz said. “Please continue the prayers. They’re very important. The hope is very important.”                SEE VIEO REPORT    ;    https://www.wearecentralpa.com/news/national-news/rescue-efforts-at-surfside-condo-collapse-slowed-by-very-deep-fire-in-rubble-this-is-very-frustrating/

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The news today said the building engineer and maintenance person both spoke about the ongoing flooding in the basement that floated cars and their pumps couldn't keep up with, then it would suddenly disappear, but it was on a regular basis.  The waterproofing was spalling off of the walls in many places and they pumped them full of some kind of foam that didn't help.   Where the waterproofing failed, the saltwater seeped in and rusted the rebar which expanded and crushed the concrete around it.  Huge cracks were appearing in the foundation that couldn't be fixed and they've been measuring the movement in millimeters since 1984. Just this year, the 40 year building code required a fix but they just hired a firm in the last few weeks.  Too late!

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Family of 4, including 2 girls, among victims in Miami condo collapse

"But the loss of our children is too great to bear," the Miami-Dade county mayor said.

The Guara family in a photo posted to a verified GoFundMe started by their daughters' classmate. The Guara family in a photo posted to a verified GoFundMe started by their daughters' classmate.GoFundMe

 / Source: TODAY

The youngest victims of the Florida condo collapse were identified by Miami-Dade Police Wednesday.

Lucia, 10, and Emma Guara, 4, are among the latest identified victims who died in the partial collapse of Champlain Towers South Condo in Surfside, Florida.

The Guara sisters' parents, Marcus Guara and Anaely Rodriguez, were also confirmed victims in the collapse. The family of four lived together on the eighth floor.


Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said Wednesday that any loss of life from the collapse is a tragedy.

"But the loss of our children is too great to bear," Levine Cava said. "Our community, our nation and the world, we're all mourning with these families."

Earlier this week, a classmate of the sisters started a GoFundMe page for the Guara family.

"I cant even begin to describe how terrible this was," 11-year-old Navah Lisman wrote of the partial collapse. "Some are still separated from family members."

Peter Milian, a cousin of Marcus Guara, told NBC affiliate WTVJ that the family was in disbelief.

"A family's been erased, and that's just something, it's hard to contemplate that," he told the outlet.

The body of 21-year-old Andreas Giannitsopoulos was also pulled from the rubble Wednesday. Giannitsopoulos was visiting his godfather when the condo tower fell.

“My son was the strongest person I know and the best part of my day. We had such plans for his future,” his mother, Tina Giannitsopoulos, said Wednesday after authorities confirmed they had found her son.

As of late Wednesday, authorities have confirmed 18 fatalities, while 145 people remain missing.                          SEE TWEET       ;    https://www.today.com/parents/family-4-including-2-girls-among-victims-miami-condo-collapse-t224248

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Surfside condo building’s standing portion brought down with explosives

The demolition at the Champlain Towers site was a necessary step for crews to continue their search for any possible survivors, the Miami-Dade County mayor said

Fox News Flash top headlines for July 4

Fox News Flash top headlines are here. Check out what's clicking on Foxnews.com.

The still-standing portion of the partially collapsed condo building in Surfside, Florida, was brought down using explosives Sunday night.

The move occurred after 10 p.m. ET, 11 days after the shocking collapse of much of the residential Champlain Towers structure on June 24 that resulted in 24 confirmed deaths, with 121 people still unaccounted for, according to Miami-Dade County officials.

Demolition teams bring down the unstable remainder of the Champlain Towers South condo building, late Sunday, July 4, 2021, in Surfside, Florida. (Associated Press)

Demolition teams bring down the unstable remainder of the Champlain Towers South condo building, late Sunday, July 4, 2021, in Surfside, Florida. (Associated Press)

County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said the demolition of the remaining portion of the building was a necessary step for crews to continue their search for any possible survivors of the disaster.

"Bringing down this building in a controlled manner is critical to expanding the scope of our search-and-rescue effort," Cava told reporters at a news conference, according to The Associated Press.


Search crews will resume sifting through the rubble after the demolition as soon as they receive an "all clear" signal from site managers, the mayor said.

Cava and other officials have pledged that search efforts will continue in hopes of finding survivors even though the odds of finding anyone still alive after more than a week were not favorable.

This rescue effort, as far as I'm concerned, will go on until everybody is pulled out of that debris," Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said earlier Sunday during an appearance on CBS News' "Face the Nation."

Concerns had developed in recent days that the still-standing portion of the building was unsafe and could have endangered search crews as they worked at the site, the AP reported.

The situation was made more uncertain by the approach of Tropical Storm Elsa, which was heading toward Florida after barreling through the Caribbean over the past several days – although the worst of the storm was expected to travel west of Surfside, according to forecasters.

The June 24 partial collapse of the Champlain Towers structure drew new scrutiny to the issue of construction integrity in Florida.

The damage to the building had officials and residents alike reviewing past communications about concerns at the building, with several surviving residents already filing lawsuits.

On Friday, officials in neighboring North Miami Beach ordered the shutdown and evacuation of a high-rise condominium building in that community, citing structural concerns.

Sunday night's razing of the remaining portion of the Surfside building will ultimately give search crews better access to other parts of the site, Miami-Dade Assistant Fire Chief Raide Jadallah told the AP.

The demolition was handled by BG Group, a general contracting outfit in Delray, Florida, on a $935,000 contract from the state, according to the news agency.

Crews had planned to place the explosives in the basement and lobby levels of the structure, officials said prior to the blast, in a process called "energetic felling," the AP reported.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates. The Associated Press contributed to this report.                                                                                                          SEE TWEET VIDEO   ;   https://www.foxnews.com/us/surfside-condo-buildings-standing-portion-brought-down-with-explosives

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Identifying the remains a burdensome task in condo collapse

by ADRIANA GOMEZ LICON | Associated Press

Rescuers search for victims at a collapsed South Florida condo building Monday, July 5, 2021, in Surfside, Fla., after demolition crews set off a string of explosives that brought down the last of the Champlain Towers South building in a plume of dust on Sunday. (Pedro Portal/Miami Herald via AP)
Rescuers search for victims at a collapsed South Florida condo building Monday, July 5, 2021, in Surfside, Fla., after demolition crews set off a string of explosives that brought down the last of the Champlain Towers South building in a plume of dust on Sunday. (Pedro Portal/Miami Herald via AP)
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MIAMI (AP) — As crews peel away layer after layer of the collapsed condo tower in South Florida, the death toll increases — and so does the burden of collecting and identifying the dead, as rescuers and pathologists balance the rigors of their duties with relatives' desperate need for closure.

Nobody has been found alive since the first hours of the June 24 disaster that killed at least 27 people in the town of Surfside, so updating the families has so far been a matter of delivering bad news. And what crews are finding is often not intact.

"It's not necessarily that we are finding victims. We are finding human remains," Miami-Dade County Assistant Fire Chief Raide Jadallah said to audible gasps and moans on a recent day when he had the delicate task of briefing relatives at a family assistance center set up in a hotel near the site.

With more than 115 people still unaccounted for, the task could soon overwhelm the local medical examiner's office, and the federal government has sent a team of five people from the University of Florida to help with DNA analysis. More help could be on the way, said Jason Byrd, commander of the Florida Mortuary Operations Response System.

Rescuers search for victims at a collapsed South Florida condo building Monday, July 5, 2021, in Surfside, Fla., after demolition crews set off a string of explosives that brought down the last of the Champlain Towers South building in a plume of dust on Sunday. (Carl Juste/Miami Herald via AP

The medical examiner has already run into problems. When pathologists were trying to deliver one woman's body in time for a funeral, some faulty DNA testing meant they had to cut off a finger and rush it to a lab to log her fingerprint, an official told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the incident.

Time is a complicating factor as well, as experts say DNA analysis becomes less reliable as bodies start to decompose.

But the way the building collapsed, with its 12 floors pancaking on top of each other, may make some of the work relatively straightforward as crews clear debris from the top and work their way down, according to Dennis Dirkmaat, who chairs the Department of Applied and Forensic Sciences at Mercyhurst University.

They "remove the uppermost layer in a horizontal manner, locate all of the individuals found there," said Dirkmaat, who worked on recovery and identification of victims from United Airlines Flight 93, which crashed in Pennsylvania on 9/11. "You know exactly where they're located. You can eventually place them in a particular apartment or a particular location."

Search and rescue operations resumed as members of the Pennsylvania Search and Rescue team combed through the debris of the Champlain Tower South complex, Monday, July 5, 2021, in Surfside, Fla. (Carl Juste/Miami Herald via AP)

Lt. Col. Oz Gino, the commander of an Israeli search and rescue battalion working at the Florida site, said his team used blueprints of the building to create detailed 3D images of the disaster site to aid in the search. They also gathered information from families of the missing to build a room-by-room model laying out where people would have been sleeping during the pre-dawn collapse.

The pace of finding victims' remains has been slow so far, with efforts focused on searching for anyone who may still be alive. That part of the process should take a couple of weeks before it turns into a recovery phase, which could also run for weeks.

Many of the building's occupants are Jewish, and emergency workers are being careful to heed religious sensitivities as they handle what they find.

In the Jewish faith, the whole body and all its parts, including limbs, blood and tissue, must be collected in preparation for burial. Bodies should not be left overnight or exposed in the open as they are considered to be made in the image of God.

FILE - In this Friday, July 2, 2021, file photo, search and rescue personnel remove remains on a stretcher as they work atop the rubble of the Champlain Tower South complex in Surfside, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, File)

Jadallah said every time crews find human remains, they remove them and clean the area. They also work with a rabbi to ensure any religious rituals are done properly.

The medical examiner has honored the wishes of some relatives not to perform autopsies, which are not mandatory unless there is a criminal investigation. They are forbidden in Jewish tradition on the grounds that the body must not be violated after death.

Mark Rosenberg, the head of a team from the nonprofit burial society Chesed Shel Emes, said he has about 20 people near the collapse site who are summoned every time someone is pulled from the rubble to say prayers.

And Yossi Landau, who leads volunteers with the Israeli organization Zaka, which assists in identifications after accidents, disasters and bombings, said his group deployed a crew to the site to assist with burial preparation.

It's a race against the clock, since Jewish tradition also says burials must be timely: The remains of Leon and Christina Oliwkowicz, an elderly couple from Venezuela, were identified June 27 and their funeral was held the following day.

"You have to bury the body in its entirety," Rosenberg said, "and as soon as possible."                          https://wjactv.com/news/nation-world/identifying-the-remains-a-burdensome-task-in-condo-collapse

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Search at condo collapse site turns from rescue to recovery effort

On Wednesday night, the search operation at the site of the collapsed condo in Florida turned from rescue to recovery as officials told families there was “no chance of life” in the rubble. A short time later, hundreds of first responders gathered by the site for an emotional moment of silence for the 54 people now confirmed dead and 86 still missing. NBC’s Morgan Chesky reports for TODAY from Surfside, Florida.July 8, 2021                                                                                                                                                     https://www.today.com/video/search-at-condo-collapse-site-turns-from-rescue-to-recovery-effort-116363333878

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