A Miami-Dade County Task Force and their allies from across Florida — and from Israel — are still working diligently at the site of a collapsed condominium building in Surfside, trying to find survivors despite an official decision to change the “search and rescue” operation to one of “recovery.”
Miami-Dade Mayor Levine Cava told a local Florida news station that, despite being instructed to go home, members of the Miami-Dade County Task Force 1, are still at the site of the Champlain Towers South, searching for any potential survivors still buried in the rubble.
“Our Miami-Dade County Task Force 1 members, who’ve been here since the beginning… they could go home, but they are still here,” she said, according to Fox News.
“State officials said earlier that they do not expect to find any more survivors and the rescue effort is now focused on recovery. The decision to end the rescue effort came after crews completed a search of the last area where they expected to find ‘voids,’ or pockets of debris large enough to possibly contain survivors,” the outlet continued. “Eight more bodies were recovered Wednesday, bringing the death toll to 54, the mayor said. Thirty-three of the dead have been identified, and 86 people are still unaccounted for.”
“The fact that we did not get an alert on a K-9, a sensor trip for sound and any visual utilizing our cameras, the last known alert that we received was the initial hours the day of the collapse,” Miami-Dade Assistant Fire Chief Raied Jadallah said in a meeting with families of those still missing in the shocking tragedy.
“Our hearts still hoped to find survivors, but our experience and expertise indicated that was no longer possible,” Jadallah continued, adding that the team did not find anyone in the rubble who could have survived the initial collapse.
Members of an Israeli team, sent to help aid in the rescue mission, tried to comfort the families of those still missing, many of whom are Jewish.
“I ask you all to look into my eyes, and I promise you we did everything. No effort was saved,” one of the Israeli team members told the group.
Rescuers from across Florida participated in their own moment of silence for the Champlain South Towers victims. Miami-Dade Fire and Rescue posted a photo of their memorial to social media.
“With heavy hearts, we begin search & recovery efforts, and will continue to give our all as our commitment still remains to reunite families with their loved ones,” they wrote.
Although the effort had since turned from search and rescue to recovery, an investigation into what caused the Champlain South Towers to suddenly collapse in the early hours of a Thursday morning late last month is just beginning. In addition to an inquiry into consulting companies and engineers who worked on the building or prepared reports about the condo tower’s stability, local officials say they will impanel a grand jury to comb over evidence of potential criminal liability.
“Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said a grand jury has agreed to look into the collapse, and she said whatever they determine at the end of the process could have implications nationwide,” Florida’s WSVN noted.
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