The death toll from the Miami condo collapse reached 84 on Saturday, as workers recovered the bodies of seven new victims overnight.
Another 43 people still remain ‘unaccounted for’ – 17 days after the 13-story Champlain Towers South apartment block crumbled.
Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava stated that 62 of the victims have so far been identified.
Meanwhile, there are now also fears survivors and first responders could develop cancer due to potentially hazardous dust floating in the area.
Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett told local reporters that ‘huge amount’ of dust had kicked been kicked up in the area on Saturday, despite heavy rainfall overnight.
Air samples collected by Local 10 News show ‘hazardous air quality’ in and around the debris.
According to the website, ‘materials [from the site] released into the air… can lead to cancer and respiratory disease’, as happened to hundreds of survivors and first responders following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
‘We will probably never know everything we’ve been exposed to out there,’ Billy McAlister, the president of Metropolitan Dade County Local 1403 Firefighters old Local 10.
The death toll from the Miami condo collapse reached 84 on Saturday, as workers recovered the bodies of seven new victims overnight. There are now also fears survivors and first responders could develop cancer due to potentially hazardous dust floating in the area. A man is seen covering his face as he makes his way to the recovery site on Saturday
Dust is seen floating through the air as rescue workers remove debris overnight
A worker wearing a P100 mask is seen among the rubble searching for remains of 43 people who are ‘unaccounted for’
The death toll from the Miami condo collapse reached 84 on Saturday, as workers recovered the bodies of seven new victims overnight
McAlister said he and his team had been in contact with medical experts who run the World Trade Center Respiratory Health Initiative to try and employ tactics to mitigate exposure to hazardous air.
First responders are required to wear P100 masks, but recovery shifts can stretch on for 12 hours at a time, meaning there’s no telling the true levels of exposure.
‘It is the unknown. We don’t know what we don’t know,’ McAllister stated.
However, he praised the efforts of his team, stating: ‘That is our job. We have to be there.’
Elsewhere on Saturday, crushed cars which were parked in and around the Surfside condo complex were taken away to be impounded.
Several of the vehicles were completely destroyed and were still strewn with rubble.
Elsewhere on Saturday, crushed cars which were parked in and around the Surfside condo complex were taken away to be impounded
Several of the vehicles were completely destroyed and were still strewn with rubble
‘We know that there will be long-term impacts for the teams on the front line,’ Levine Cava said.
‘They have given so much of themselves in these first two weeks.’
Miami-Dade Fire Chief Alan Cominsky said taking care of the mental health and well-being of the first responders is a priority. He said it is critical that the first responders communicate with each other.
‘It’s important for us to talk,’ he said.
Rescuers are seen searching through the debris on June 27. The death toll is now at 79
To that end, Levine Cava said officials have added peer support personnel at the fire stations.
No one has been found alive since the first hours after a large section of the 12-story Champlain Towers South came crashing down on June 24.
Hope of finding survivors was briefly rekindled after workers demolished the remainder of the building on Sunday night, allowing access to new areas of debris.
Some voids where survivors could have been trapped did exist, mostly in the basement and the parking garage, but no one was found alive. Instead, teams recovered more than a dozen additional victims.
On Wednesday, workers shifted their mission from search and rescue to recovery after concluding that there was ‘no chance of life’ in the rubble.
Levine Cava said the high death toll is ‘an aching hole in the center of this close-knit family here in Surfside.’
She said that with 61 people still listed as missing, detectives are continuing to audit the list to verify that all of those people were actually inside the building when it collapsed. ‘We want to get this right,’ she said.
Miami-Dade Fire Chef Alan Cominsky said it is unclear how the long the recovery effort will take, but said crews are making progress.
Rescue workers now focused on finding remains instead of survivors have pledged to keep up their search for victims until they clear all the debris at the site.
State and local officials have pledged financial assistance to families of the victims, as well as to residents of the building who survived but lost all their possessions.
On Friday, Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order indefinitely suspending laws that would require the payment of property taxes for residents whose homes were destroyed or rendered uninhabitable in the collapse.
The order also requests that the state legislature explore additional acts that may be needed to alleviate their property tax obligations.
Meanwhile, authorities are launching a grand jury investigation into the collapse. And at least six lawsuits have been filed by families.
Footage shot by a prospective buyer showed cracks and puddles in the Surfside condo building in Miami a year before it collapsed.
The video, which was shared with DailyMail.com, was taken in the garage of the Champlain Towers South building in July last year.
Fiorella Terenzi, who had toured the complex in anticipation of buying a unit on the sixth floor, said what she saw in the garage ultimately turned her off buying in the building.
Terenzi’s video showed wide cracks in the ceiling of the garage that appeared to have been repaired and painted over.
It also showed what appeared to be water puddles in the ceiling.
The video was taken by prospective buyer Fiorella Terenzi in the garage of the Champlain Towers South building in Surfside in July last year
Several engineers reviewed Terenzi’s video and determined there were no obvious red flags that could have pointed to the building collapsing some 12 months later, according to the Miami Herald.
The parking garage that Terenzi filmed is the same one in which an engineer flagged in a 2018 report as having ‘major structural damage’ to the pool deck area and underground parking garage.
The engineering report from the firm of Morabito Consultants did not warn of imminent danger from the damage.
It did, however, note the need for extensive and costly repairs to fix the systemic issues with Champlain Towers South.
Investigators, who have been at the site since the building collapsed on June 24, are still working to determine how it collapsed.
It has previously been suggested that existing damage to a ground-floor pool deck and, or, concrete cracking throughout the building could potentially be behind the collapse.
Structural engineers have warned, however, that the investigation into the cause will be long-term given they have been limited so far because the rescue operation is ongoing.
Terenzi, who had toured the complex in anticipation of buying a unit on the sixth floor, said what she saw in the garage ultimately turned her off buying in the building
Terenzi’s video showed wide cracks in the ceiling of the garage that appeared to have been repaired and painted over
It also showed what appeared to be water puddles in the ceiling
It comes as an additional 14 bodies were uncovered in the rubble of the Champlain Towers South condo building by Friday, bringing the death toll to 79
The painstaking search for survivors shifted to a recovery effort at midnight on Wednesday after authorities said they had come to the conclusion that there was ‘no chance of life’ in the rubble