Authorities announced Friday that a cat belonging to a family who lived in the Champlain Towers South condo building in Surfside, Fla., has been located and reunited with his owners, two weeks after the building partially collapsed.
Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava (D) said at a Friday evening press conference that the cat, Binx, had lived on the ninth floor of the residential building and was recently found near the site, where emergency responders are still working to find those buried under the rubble.
The Miami Herald earlier Friday reported that Binx belonged to Angela and Edgar Gonzalez, who lived in one of the condo units with their daughters, Deven and Tayler, and their dog, Daisy.
According to the Herald, while Tayler Gonzalez was not in the building at the time of the collapse, Angela and Deven Gonzalez were among the first to be pulled from the rubble and were hospitalized.
Edgar Gonzalez remains missing as of Friday, the Herald reported.
“Binx” the cat found safe days after Champlain Towers South collapse. Cat belongs to the Gonzalez family. Two families member remain in the hospital. Search continues for Edgar Gonzalez. #SurfsideBuildingCollapse @wsvn pic.twitter.com/dTPsxnfdUQ— Jessica Holly (@JhollyW) July 9, 2021
“After 16 long and extremely difficult days, I’m happy to be able to share a small piece of good news," Cava said Friday.
“Thank you from the bottom of my heart and all of us, who are so happy to have played a role in reuniting Binx with his family,” she added. “I’m glad that this small miracle could bring some light into the lives of a hurting family today, and provide a bright spot for our whole community in the midst of this terrible tragedy.”
Gina Nicole Vlasek, co-founder of local animal shelter The Kitty Campus, had posted on Facebook earlier Friday that a black cat matching Binx’s description was brought to the shelter by Federal Emergency Management Agency officials Thursday evening.
“All we needed was a ray of hope in this tragedy… Today was one of the most amazing days,” Vlasek wrote. “One of the survivors came to see the cat and to determine if it was her families cat and IT WAS!”
One additional body was found amid the rubble of the Surfside building collapse during the day Friday, bringing the total death toll to 79.
Cava said Friday that based on additional identifications made by detectives Friday, 53 victims have now been identified, with 51 next-of-kin notifications made.
In total, 200 people have been accounted for, with 61 others “potentially unaccounted for,” Cava said, adding that the numbers will likely continue to change as investigators conduct audits on reports of possible identified individuals.
The Friday updates come after officials confirmed earlier this week that the search-and-rescue efforts would transition to a recovery mission starting at midnight Thursday as the hope for finding survivors dims.