First responders recovered the body of a family member for one of their own while conducting search and rescue operations at the site of the collapsed condo building in Surfside, Fla., on Thursday night.
The body of the 7-year-old girl — the daughter of a Miami city firefighter — was discovered by the Urban Search and Rescue Team in Florida Task Force 2, Miami Mayor Francis SuarezFrancis SuarezMiami mayor on possible White House bid: I think people are 'thirsting' for a 'next-generation candidate' Pro-Cuban protesters block Miami expressway Crews mourn for 'our family' after finding body of Miami firefighter's daughter in condo rubble MORE and Miami-Dade County Fire Chief Alan Cominsky confirmed at a press conference on Friday.
The identities of the child and family have not yet been made public. Suarez urged the public to "respect the privacy of the immediate family and the fire department," which he said was "understandably grieving tremendously."
"I'm the father of two children. I have a 7-year-old son, and the thought of losing him in this way is unimaginable for me, my family," Suarez said. "I think this tragedy has haunted so many of us because so many of us have or know someone who has been in the building or affected by this tragedy. So now, not only do we know someone, this is a member of our family, of our fire family."
Cominsky also discussed the loss, noting that it "takes a toll" on the first responders to remove any victim, let alone the family member of one of their own. He added that he was grateful for the incoming federal resources to continue responding to the building collapse.
"Every, every victim we remove, it's difficult," he said, adding responders have careful tactics to respect the victims they find. "We try to respect [and] have a whole process in regards to how we remove each individual we come across. Unfortunately, we haven't been able to remove any survivors yet. But it's very difficult."
"And last night was even more when removing a fellow firefighter's daughter," he added. "Obviously the firefighters are emotional. I'm not going to disclose anything, in respect for the family, but it takes a toll."
Officials said the father of the girl who died in the building was not part of the crew that found her.
First responders have been clearing debris for more than a week since the Champlain Towers condo building in Surfside, Fla., collapsed suddenly last week.
On Friday, the death toll from the tragedy climbed to 22, with more than 120 residents still missing.
Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava also announced she is "authorizing the demolition of the building in the interest of public health and safety as soon as the engineers sign off on the next steps to begin the demolition process."
Cava noted the work from search and rescue crews in the Friday morning press conference, asking that people "keep all of them in your thoughts and prayers."
"They truly represent the very best in all of us and we need to be there for them as they are here for us," Cava said.
"It goes without saying that every night since last [Thursday] has been immensely difficult for everybody, and particularly, the families that have been impacted," she said. "But last night was uniquely different. It was different and more difficult for our first responders."