- The focus of the search had formally turned to recovering remains at midnight, and emergency teams removed rescue dogs and sound devices.
- Gov. Ron DeSantis said he was working with lawmakers to provide tax waivers and other aid to survivors.
- Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Chief Alan Cominsky said he expects the search for human remains will take several more weeks.
SURFSIDE, Fla. — Two weeks after a massive waterfront condominium building crashed to the ground, workers continued to dig through rubble Thursday, now without hope of finding any survivors.
The death toll rose to 64 after the discovery of 10 more bodies. Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava updated the total Thursday afternoon after announcing in the morning that six had been found. She said 76 people remain unaccounted for.
Levine Cava also urged anybody with photos or videos of the collapse to share them with the authorities for evidentiary purposes
The focus of the search had formally turned to recovering remains at midnight, and emergency teams removed rescue dogs and sound devices. At around 1:20 a.m., work halted for a moment of silence to mark two weeks since the stunning collapse.
“It’s officially two weeks since this unthinkable and unprecedented tragedy shook our community and the world,” Levine Cava said. “The work continues with all speed and urgency.”
Miami-Dade Assistant Fire Chief Raide Jadallah told families in a private meeting that after searching all areas of debris, officials concluded it would be next to impossible to find people alive.
“Our sole responsibility at this point is to bring closure,” he said, adding that there was “no chance of life.”
Michael Stratton, whose wife, Cassie, has not officially been confirmed dead, said friends and family had accepted “the loss of a bright and kind soul with an adventurous spirit.”
“This wasn’t the miracle we prayed for,” he said in a statement Thursday. “But it was not for lack of trying by rescue crews whose tireless bravery will never be forgotten.”
Officials clung to hope that some of the missing were not in Champlain Towers South when it collapsed. Levine Cava said detectives are following leads to identify residents who may have been elsewhere.
The mayor said procedures have been set up to manage the recovery of personal items – including jewelry, legal documents, wallets, iPads, photographs, religious items and firearms – from the rubble.
Gov. Ron DeSantis said he was working with lawmakers to provide tax waivers and other aid to survivors.
“We want to do all we can for the survivors and family members and get them on their feet as soon as we can,” DeSantis said. “Pretty soon there won’t be cameras here, but we know the needs will continue.”
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Democrat who represents Surfside in Congress, said she is seeking federal funding to help the many people who have lost family members and those who survived the disaster but lost their possessions.
“That’s the job of our team, to help ensure and to help them, if not ever to become whole again, to make sure they can at least start to piece together again the shards of their lives,” she said.
Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Chief Alan Cominsky said he expects the search for human remains will take several more weeks.
Dennis Dirkmaat, an anthropology professor who chairs the Department of Applied and Forensic Sciences at Mercyhurst University, said he expects crews will use heavy equipment to methodically lift material off the debris pile, place it in containers and evaluate it for evidence of human remains.
He said the process would probably be repeated as the crews move to subsequent floors.
“It’s still a process, slow, tedious process of removing all of this debris. And so it’s going to take a while,” he said.
The collapse prompted safety reviews of numerous high-rise buildings in South Florida. In North Miami Beach, residents of the 156-unit Crestview Towers condominium building were evacuated last week. The structure, built in 1972, was deemed unsafe in January, officials said.
The building will remain unoccupied until the condo association submits a 40-year recertification report that addresses all structural and electrical issues, city officials said Thursday.
Bacon reported from Arlington, Virginia. Contributing: Antonio Fins and Mark Woods, Palm Beach Post; The Associated Press