After nearly two weeks since the June 24 collapse of a Miami condominium, officials declared an end to survivor rescue efforts.
What We Know:
- A few days after the northeast corridor collapse, more than 150 people remained unaccounted for. As of Wednesday evening, the death toll rose from 10 to 54. Of the 54 dead, 33 were identified. 86 people are still unaccounted for. The death toll as of Friday has now risen to 78.
- The past two weeks consisted of rescuers using sonar equipment, cranes, cameras, and dogs to search for living people. Since the initial collapse, however, none of the equipment or dogs detected any living people. Rescuers have worked through 7 million pounds of debris since June 24. “Just based on the facts, there’s zero chance of survival,” said Assistant Chief Ray Jadallah of Miami-Dade Fire Rescue. This close to zero likelihood of survival for two weeks without food, water, or air largely influenced officials’ decision to halt rescue efforts.
- The “pancaked” debris formation yields practically zero voids or pockets of air and space where a person could survive. Chief Jadallah described an area where four floors collapsed onto one another, with separation between them a total of only three feet. Fire Chief Alan Cominsky said search crews used “every resource and expertise available to find life under the rubble…crews worked under arduous conditions through rain, smoke, fire and even imminent danger of a secondary collapse.”
- Tropical Storm Elsa affected rescue efforts, landing at Florida’s Gulf Coast on Wednesday morning. Extreme heat, thunderstorms, wind, and lightning carried across Florida to the site of the collapse. Video footage shows rescuers’ attempts to continue the search in spite of tents, tarps, and trees blowing over.
- Instead of searching for bodies, the focus shifts to recovery. Upcoming weeks will consist of working through the debris. On Sunday, teams demolished the remaining portion of the condo to prevent another potential collapse. With the hope of finding survivors no longer feasible, crews move rubble. So far, crews have removed 24 tons of debris.
While the cause of the collapse remains unknown, structural investigation persists. An October 2018 report showed concrete damage below the pool and in the parking garage.