Workers recover another 14 bodies; Death toll now at 78 at Surfside condo collapse site

By: - July 9, 2021 2:13 pm

The ruins of the Champlain Towers South condominium building in Surfside. Credit: Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Department

Search teams have recovered another 14 bodies from the remains of the Champlain Towers South condominium building, bringing the death count to 78, Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said Friday.

“This is a staggering and heartbreaking number that affects all of us very, very deeply,” Cava said during a press briefing.

Of the victims found, 47 have been identified and relatives notified, she said. Sixty-two people believed to have been in the building remain unaccounted for.

Searchers are concentrating on a stairwell and bedrooms, Miami Dade Fire Chief Alan Cominsky said.

Gov. Ron DeSantis, who has attended these briefings most days since the collapse, was not on site on Friday. Earlier this week, he suggested the conditions that caused the disaster might have been isolated, saying, “I think this building had problems from the start, let’s just put it that way.”

Officials have been providing assistance including mental health counseling to family members from the beginning, but on Friday they highlighted counseling available to the men and women who have been digging on the site since the collapse on June 24, recovering bodies plus artifacts of their lives.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology, which is investigating the cause of the collapse, has collected 200 pieces of forensic evidence for analysis, she said.

Workers have removed 13 million pounds of concrete and debris, officials said. They are using GPS to record the location where they find items, in hopes of matching them to their owners.

“Those items are being guarded 24 hours a day. Everything you can imagine has been recovered and processed. This process will continue until every bit of debris has been gone through,” Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said.

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Michael Moline
Michael Moline

Michael Moline has covered politics and the legal system for more than 30 years. He is a former managing editor of the San Francisco Daily Journal and former assistant managing editor of The National Law Journal. He began his career covering the Florida Capitol for United Press International. More recently, he wrote for Florida Politics.