Almost two weeks since the search began in the partially collapsed building of a city in Florida, rescue teams have decided to end the search for survivors, in an announcement made on Wednesday (7).
“Only on the basis of the facts, there is no chance of survival,” Miami-Dade Deputy Fire Chief Ray Jadallah told family members of the missing in a private meeting.
Another 18 bodies were removed from the rubble of the building in Surfside, north of Miami Beach on Wednesday, bringing the total number of victims to 54, while 86 remain missing.
At midnight this Thursday (8) local time (11 p.m. this Wednesday GMT), the search and rescue mission for the survivors will be officially modified to search for and clear the debris of the Champlain South Tours complex.
“It is with deep sadness that I share that we have made an extremely difficult decision,” Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Cava Levine said at a press conference Wednesday.
At the local Miami Herald, Israeli Col. Golan Vach, head of a specialized search and rescue unit in the country’s military that works with teams from Florida, explained that debris removal isn’t all about a bulldozer collecting materials and taking them to a large warehouse.
“The reality is that we are working with machines, we know where to dig, where to look. We manually search, find victims and relatives and delete them very carefully. “
In addition to the Israelis, the rescue had teams from Mexico and Texas to help with the search.
The news of the end of the search for survivors comes after the controlled explosion of the part of the building still standing, which took place on Sunday evening (4, Monday morning in Brazil).
Authorities decided to demolish the remains of the building, which was located in Surfside, north of Miami Beach, due to the arrival of Tropical Storm Elsa in the area. There were concerns that the storm could cause the rest of the building to collapse, putting rescue teams at risk.
After the demolition, crews heard sounds coming from the rubble, not human voices, but unidentifiable thuds and rumblings that sounded promising. While digging the pile, however, only items were found.
The Champlain South Tours complex, built 40 years ago, had 12 floors and 136 apartments. The block overlooking the sea collapsed, for reasons which are being investigated.
A report on the condition of the building indicated in 2018 “significant structural damage” as well as “cracks” in the parking lot of the building. The publication of a letter from the president of the condominium association dated April fueled the debate on whether the disaster could have been avoided.
Among the residents of the collapsed building were Brazilians, such as businesswoman Deborah Soriano, 58. Although the collapse happened at dawn, she was awake cleaning the house after dinner when she felt an explosion and was thrown across the room.
When he opened the door to his apartment, he was faced with a void. “I had no idea what was going on, if it was a terrorist attack, if it was an earthquake, I couldn’t capture it,” he says. “I went to the terrace and saw like a fog, I couldn’t see anything. I wanted to leave, I opened the apartment door and there was no hallway. There was nothing else. Everything was down. “
Deborah made it out of the fire escape well, found other neighbors downstairs, but the doors were blocked with rubble. “We found a hole in the wall, walked through that hole, went hole to hole until we managed to get out near the front of the building. Then the firefighters came up with a bunch of ladders. It was pretty crazy, in fact, I don’t even know how long it lasted.
Erick de Moura, another Brazilian who lived in the apartment building, fled from the collapse when he responded to his girlfriend’s request to sleep at her house that night.
With Reuters and the New York Times