Officials announced Wednesday evening that the search and rescue efforts at the collapsed Miami Beach-area condo building would shift to a recovery operation, signaling the formal end of the search for survivors.
With 86 people still unaccounted for, crews have not found anyone alive since shortly after half of Champlain Towers South in Surfside, Florida, crumbled into a pile of rubble in less than a minute in the early morning hours of June 24th.
Of the 54 people confirmed dead, 33 have been identified and their families notified, Mayor Levine Cava said. “The transition from rescue to recovery will take place at midnight tonight,” the Mayor said at a press conference, describing the decision as “extremely difficult.”
“Please join me in praying for those we have lost and those we are mourning,” she said.
BREAKING UPDATE: As the 14th day of searching came to a close, families and loved ones were informed during a private briefing that the search and rescue effort for live victims in the rubble that was once Champlain Towers South is coming to an end. https://t.co/B0S16z0jNi
— Miami Herald (@MiamiHerald) July 7, 2021
The Mayor praised the rescue team comprised of volunteers from around the world, calling them “men and women whose own lives are driven by a single purpose: to save the lives of others.” President Joe Biden, who visited the area last week, called to offer his continued support, according to the Mayor.
The families in Surfside are truly incredible. Just minutes after being told there was no hope of finding any of their loved ones alive, they expressed their profound gratitude to all those who have been searching and assisting them. The room erupted in applause. 😭
— Evan Ross 🇺🇸 (@MrEvanRoss) July 7, 2021
Weather briefly hampered the rescue efforts. While Tropical Storm Elsa made landfall on Florida’s opposite coast, the Miami area was still seeing its effects with strong winds and rain. A video released Tuesday by the Miami-Dade County Fire Rescue Department showed dozens working on the pile as tarps and tents waved in the wind and palm trees swayed from side to side.
Rescue workers who have labored for 14 days to find survivors in the rubble of the collapsed condo building in Surfside have shifted their efforts from rescue to recovery. https://t.co/wXDDXx2pZp pic.twitter.com/1Ecn33VVCQ
— South Florida Sun Sentinel (@SunSentinel) July 7, 2021
Miami-Dade Fire Chief Alan Cominsky said Wednesday that the decision to call off the rescue effort “was not an easy one, as our hearts still hoped to find survivors, but our experience and expertise indicated that was no longer possible.”
Despite the arrival of inclement weather due to Tropical Storm Elsa, first responders continue working on the debris pile of the Champlain Towers building collapse in Surfside. pic.twitter.com/Gc12hdtu86
— Miami-Dade Fire Rescue (@MiamiDadeFire) July 5, 2021
The HillReporter staff sends its condolences to all of the families who lost someone in the collapse, and to the entire Surfside community.