2 more victims, including 7-year-old daughter of firefighter, found at site of collapsed FL condo
( CBS )
Two more victims, including the 7-year-old daughter of a Miami firefighter, have been found at the site of the collapsed condominium building in Surfside, Florida, officials said Friday. Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said that the bodies were found Thursday evening, raising the death toll to 20. The number of people unaccounted for dropped to 128, she said.
"Last night, we did discover two additional victims. Tragically, one of those victims was the 7-year-old daughter of a city of Miami firefighter," said Levine Cava.
More than 180 people have now been accounted for, she said. Levin Cava said some missing family members had since been marked safe and an "ongoing audit" was underway to track the number of unaccounted for.
Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said that authorities are using drones to examine the site and inside the building after calls and emails about rescuing animals in the building. But he said search and rescue teams working at the site have so far not seen any animals.
Search and rescue efforts had been called off over fears that what's left of the building could cave in. Search crews made the decision to suspend the search early Thursday morning after discovering part of the building had shifted as much as a foot.
Operations were suspended for more than 15 hours, but resumed "after the recommendation of structural engineers who inspected the remaining structure," according to Miami-Dade Fire Rescue.
Levine Cava said officials will continue to monitor the condition of the building as efforts to find victims continues, nine days after the early-morning collapse.
"It is important to stress, as our engineer explained yesterday evening, a demolition cannot be done overnight," she said.
Hurricane Elsa, which strengthened to a Category 1 storm early Friday, could also complicate efforts at the site. "It is possible that this area could see tropical-storm force winds," said Governor Ron DeSantis, saying that the site would be treated with a "special emphasis" to protect equipment at the site, and the building itself could be further damaged by the storm.
Officials said they will continue to closely monitor the storm forecast, saying winds could hit the site as soon as Sunday afternoon as the storm shifts away from Cuba and toward the state.
Representative Debbie Wasserman Schulz said Friday families of the victims were hopeful following a visit by President Joe Biden visit to the site Thursday. Mr. Biden also met with first responders and families whose loved ones are still missing, who he said are "realistic" about whether they will be rescued.
"All those folks are risking their lives to save lives, but also holding out hope that those will be found. Hope springs eternal," Mr. Biden said during his visit. "They know that the chances are, as each day goes by, diminished slightly," the president said. "But at a minimum, at a minimum, they want to recover the bodies. They want to recover the bodies."