Florida collapse toll now 24, rest of building to be razed soon

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Jul 04 2021 07:45 AM

Florida collapse toll now 24, rest of building to be razed soon 1
A man kneels at a memorial site created by neighbors in front of a partially collapsed residential building as the emergency crews continue the search and rescue operations for survivors, in Surfside, Florida, U.S. July 3, 2021. Marco Bello, Reuters

SURFSIDE - Rescuers recovered two more bodies to bring the death toll in the Florida apartment block collapse to 24, authorities said Saturday, vowing to quickly raze the rest of the structure before the potential arrival of Tropical Storm Elsa.

Nine days after the collapse in the town of Surfside, 124 people are still listed as missing, said Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava. Hopes of finding anyone alive are fast diminishing. 

Most of the 12-story Champlain Towers South building collapsed in the early hours of June 24, sending up a huge cloud of dust and rattling Americans unprepared for such a deadly urban disaster.

With Tropical Storm Elsa rumbling northward through the Caribbean, just shy of hurricane force -- and headed, for now, straight for Florida -- authorities are accelerating plans to demolish the remaining part of the structure.

They cited concern for the safety of the hundreds of search-and-rescue workers scouring the site. 

Governor Ron DeSantis told reporters Saturday demolition work could be completed before Elsa arrives, probably on Tuesday.

Authorities had previously said the work could take weeks, but DeSantis, a Republican, said accelerating demolition was only prudent.

He said demolition could be completed within 36 hours -- entailing "minimal work stoppage from the search and rescue teams" -- and that work sifting through the existing debris could resume as soon as it is clear that no fires have erupted. 

Miami-Dade fire chief Alan Cominsky said meanwhile several cases of Covid-19 had been detected in one team of searchers. 

That team, he said, had been demobilized, and medical protocols put in place to isolate anyone affected. 

© Agence France-Presse

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