Confirmed deaths rose to 90 in the recovery efforts after the collapse of a Miami Beach-area condominium building as crews continue to sift through the debris more than two weeks after Champlain Towers South fell in the middle of the night.
At least 71 of the victims have been identified with their families’ having been notified, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said Sunday morning. Search efforts accelerated in the last week after officials demolished a still-standing section of the building that prevented teams from reaching part of the debris pile.
An estimated 31 people remained unaccounted for.
Officials said Saturday that more victims have been recovered because crews have been able to remove a large amount of debris. An estimated 14 million pounds of concrete have been removed, Cava told reporters Sunday.
Cava also thanked the international crews that flew in to assist, specifically an Israeli team that offered its help. She presented keys to the county to the team’s commander in gratitude for its work.
“We especially wanted to salute the Israeli team before they’re departing today in recognition of their unrelenting dedication and their compassionate service to our community and to the families and survivors of this tragedy,” Cava said.
Police are working with crews to meticulously catalog all personal items that are recovered to return to families. Detectives are working with families not only to track who might still be missing but also to note what items — including family heirlooms or those with religious significance — might be outstanding.
Sunday was Day 18 since the Champlain Towers South building unexpectedly gave way and crumbled to the ground at around 1:30 a.m. ET.
Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said engineers who were examining Champlain Towers North, about a block from the collapsed building, expected some test results soon.
“The early results on the concrete is that the concrete strength is very good and at, or beyond, the levels at which it should be,” Burkett said. “They’re analyzing the contents and substance of the concrete, and that’s going to take a little longer.”
The cause of the collapse June 24 is still unclear. Documents released after the accident included a 2018 report that highlighted an engineer’s concerns that the building had “major structural damage.” The engineer said his findings showed that there was “abundant cracking” and crumbling in the underground parking garage of the building.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology and local agencies are investigating. An audit is underway in the Miami-Dade area to examine the structural integrity of similar buildings, particularly those undergoing 40-year recertifications.