UPDATED 9:20 AM PT – Sunday, June 27, 2021
“As the sun sets on the most tragic day this community can remember, we stand in solidarity, once again, to tell you we are working around the clock to search and rescue people in this rubble.”
–Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, (D) Miami-Dade County
Crews have been working nonstop to rescue those still stuck in the rubble following the partial collapse of a 12-story high-rise in Florida. On Sunday, Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava announced the death toll has risen to nine people following the recovery of four more bodies from the rubble.
A 2018 engineering report warned of major structural damage to a concrete slab under the Miami-area condominium. Reports on Saturday detailed the document, which said failed waterproofing under the building’s pool deck had lead to major structural damage. The report recommended the slab be replaced.
In addition, the report uncovered abundant cracking in concrete columns, beams and walls in the parking garage. The report didn’t warn of immediate danger due to the damage and it’s unclear if the damage contributed to the collapse.
Workers are using specialty trained dogs, sonar equipment and are listening for banging sounds as they search for the missing. All crews are working around the clock to determine what caused the collapse, but are taking extra precaution due to current safety hazards around the rubble. A family reunification center has been set up for anyone looking for missing relatives.
Let me be clear: The men and women of our @MiamiDadeFire team are the best in the world. They are working around the clock and using every strategy available to find and save as many loved ones as possible.
Please keep them in your prayers. pic.twitter.com/kQJnH0G336
— Daniella Levine Cava (@MayorDaniella) June 25, 2021
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) also weighed in on the tragic incident by highlighting the first responders who risked their lives to save people in the unstable building.
“So it’s a dark and tragic day, but from it we continue to pray for some miracles,” stated the Republican lawmaker. “And we’re inspired by the men and women, the heroes who are out there right now, risking their lives really to rescue, hopefully rescue people.”
To aid in the search and rescue effort, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has signed an emergency order to activate federal funding for Surfside and the federal government is reportedly sending a team to determine whether building codes should be changed.
— Miami-Dade Police (@MiamiDadePD) June 27, 2021
Joe Biden has since approved the federal emergency declaration, authorizing FEMA to coordinate disaster relief efforts. Officials are also working on what could have possibly caused the building to collapse. Among the theories are the dangers of the building on a barrier island like Miami Beach as well as the corrosive nature of the beach front environment on steel building materials.
On Saturday, Cava said crews struggled throughout the day and found other unspecified human remains.
“The process of identifying these victims is very difficult,” Cava explained. “We’re going to be relying on DNA testing and that is why we’ve already been gathering DNA samples from the family members.”
Rescue efforts remain underway, with more than 150 people still unaccounted for as crews from Mexico and Israel have joined the search.