SURFSIDE, Fla. — The number of confirmed deaths in the condo collapse in Surfside, Florida, has risen to 95, according to Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava.
“Through the ongoing search and recovery efforts, our teams have recovered an additional victim. The number of confirmed deaths is now 95, 85 of these victims have been identified and 85 next-of-kin have been notified,” said the mayor.
At this step in the recovery process, Levine Cava said officials are relying heavily on the work of their medical examiner’s office to identify human remains.
“As we’ve said, this work is becoming more difficult with the passage of time and although our teams are working as hard as they can, it takes time,” she said.
Levine Cava said the Miami-Dade Police Department has continued to make progress on the ongoing audit of the list of missing people. As a result, she said they’ve determined, 238 people are now accounted for, and 14 people are potentially unaccounted for.
The mayor stressed that the situation is “truly fluid,” and that they can only account for a missing person who may be deceased once the identification is made by the medical examiner’s office.
“And so that list of 14 includes 12 where missing persons reports have been filed with the police department and two other reports that our detectives are continuing to try to verify,” said the mayor.
After 20 days of responding to the collapse, Levine Cava said crews have moved over 18 million pounds of concrete and debris, and 892 trucks have come through the site transporting the material.
She added that rain expected in the South Florida area may delay the recovery efforts in the coming days. She said water officials have been at the site pumping water from the lower level of the building.
“As you’ve seen, the heavy rain we’ve experienced brings its own challenges and as a result, our Miami Dade water and sewer department has been very active on the scene working alongside our fire rescue team. They’ve been pumping water out of the lower level of the collapse site in the afternoon and evening, and this truly shows that this is a whole of government response,” she said.
The mayor also said property and evidence section of their police department at the site, recovering personal property and family heirlooms, treating them with respect and with faith traditions.
“This is a top priority for our teams and our religious leaders. They are embedded as well on the site. They are an integral part of the process and have been since the beginning,” she said.
The mayor said NIST, the National Institute for Standards and Technology, has now collected over 450 samples from the site and they’re working with first responders to track and tag items that they collect.
“Twenty days after this unthinkable tragedy, I could not be prouder of the extraordinary efforts of our partners at every level. Our local, our state, our federal partners, they’ve stepped up in so many ways to respond and they have been the core for the families’ recovery. They’ve continued to provide care to the families and the survivors,” said the mayor.
Levine Cava called the team working at the site superheroes.
“They have given from their heart and soul, and they have risked their own lives for the search and rescue, and search and recovery mission for nearly three weeks. We truly are walking among superheroes,” she said.
The mayor’s office said Tuesday morning’s press conference would be the last “regular” briefing related to the collapse, but they may do another if need be.