New York Daily News: MANHATTAN – The death toll in the South Florida building collapse rose to 60 with the discovery of six more bodies Thursday — a day after first responders officially ended their search for potential survivors.
The expected shift means workers would no longer listen for signs of life and would instead focus on recovering dead bodies. But authorities said crews would continue working just as hard as they have since the June 24 disaster at Champlain Towers South in Surfside.
“It’s officially two weeks since this unthinkable and unprecedented tragedy shook our community and the world… And we have now officially transitioned to search and recovery,” Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said at a morning news conference.
“The work continues with all speed and urgency,” she told reporters. “We are working around the clock to recover victims and to bring closer to the families as fast as we possibly can.”
As of 10 a.m. Thursday, 80 people remained unaccounted for, though officials have not been able to confirm whether all of those were actually in the building at the time of the collapse.
The 12-story waterfront tower was heavily occupied when half of it crashed to the ground in the middle of the night, trapping numerous victims in a massive pile of debris just north of Miami Beach. The catastrophic collapse sparked an unprecedented rescue effort with hundreds of first responders from all over the U.S. and other countries, including teams from Mexico and Israel.
But no one has been found alive in the rubble since shortly after the partial collapse.
Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett asked his town to continue praying for the victims’ families and those whose loved ones still haven’t been found.
“We’re all still praying for a miracle. We haven’t given up all hope,” he said.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis assured the community that first responders did everything they could to try to find survivors.
“I know it was absolutely terrible for the families to just not get any information about a survivor being found, even as the best efforts were being employed,” he told reporters, noting that crews have been working day and night through severe weather and dangerous conditions.
“They kept carrying on. They did all that they could,” DeSantis said. “But it’s been a rough couple of weeks… It’s weighed on a lot of the families. It’s weighed on the whole community.”
The cause of the collapse is still under investigation.
- Top Feature Photo: A police officer walks past the collapsed and demolished Champlain Towers South condominium building, Tuesday, July 6, 2021, in Surfside, Fla – Lynne Sladky/AP