Death toll in Surfside condo collapse reaches 60; Gov. DeSantis directs suspension of property taxes

By: - July 8, 2021 2:46 pm

Miami Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava addresses reporters on July 8, 2021. Source: Screenshot: Miami Dade Police Dept. video

Following the transition from a search and rescue mission for victims of the Surfside condo collapse to a recovery effort, Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava on Thursday announced additional deaths, bringing the death toll to 60.

Thirty-five victims from the tragedy at the Champlain Towers South condominium building have been identified and 34 next of kin notified, Cava said at a press conference.

Previously, the death toll was 46 and the Miami Herald reported that authorities said “there is no longer hope that there are any survivors.”

Rescue teams will be collecting personal items such as legal documents, photos, jewelry, wallets, credit and debit cards and electronic items like tablets and cellphones, Cava said.

“If found, our team will be carefully tagging these items and we’re creating a process for families to submit reports about such items that they’re missing,” Cava said.

Meanwhile, Gov. Ron DeSantis said at the press conference that he has ordered suspension of any type of property tax enforcement for homeowners of the collapsed condominium, adding that Mayor Cava plans following suit.

“We’re also working to provide as much relief to the families from the state perspective as we can,” DeSantis said.

“We’ll probably ask the [Florida] Legislature to remit any of the property tax liability from Champlain Tower South. We’ll work hard on that, and I think we’ll be able to get that done.”

Mayor Cava said rescue teams searching through the rubble in Surfside paused for a moment of silence around 1:20 a.m. on Thursday “to honor the two-week mark since the collapse.”

“The work continues with all speed and urgency. All task forces are being deployed from across the country and the world. We are working around the clock to recover victims and to bring closure to the families as fast as we possibly can,” Cava said.

The Republican governor also reflected on the recovery efforts in Surfside. As previously reported by the Florida Phoenix, search teams include workers from Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia, and the federal government, as well as Florida.

“It was a really devastating thing but we hoped that there would be survivors located. And when we didn’t get it initially, it’s kind of like, really gnawed at you inside, and I know it was just absolutely terrible for the families,” he said.

DeSantis added that “the best efforts were being employed” by authorities on rescue teams to find any survivors of the June 24 collapse of the building.

“I just had a real bad feeling, it was like in the pit of my stomach…but they kept carrying on, they did all that they could. It’s been a rough couple of weeks.”

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Issac Morgan
Issac Morgan

Issac Morgan is a 2009 graduate of Florida A&M University's School of Journalism, and a proud native of Tallahassee. He has covered city council and community events at the Gadsden County Times, worked as a sports news assistant at the Tallahassee Democrat, a communications specialist for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and as a proofreader at the Florida Law Weekly.