State Watch

Death toll rises to 60 in Florida condo collapse

Members of Miami-Dade Fire Rescue hug each other at the "Surfside Wall of Hope & Memorial"
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The death toll from the condo that collapsed in Surfside, Fla., two weeks ago rose to 60 people Thursday, as authorities transitioned from a search and rescue effort to a recovery mission.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava (D) announced the new death toll at a news conference Thursday morning, which rose from 54 people the night before. Thirty-five of the victims have been identified.

She said 200 people have been accounted for and 80 people remain “potentially unaccounted for.”

The new death toll comes hours after authorities shifted to recovery from a search and rescue effort.

Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett on Wednesday said individuals “closest to the rescue effort” determined that “the possibility of someone still alive is near zero,” which prompted the change. The transition went into effect at midnight.

“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 Thursday.

She said the recovery teams paused their work on the collapse site around 1:20 a.m. “for a brief moment of silence to honor the two-week mark since the collapse.”

Cava said her team is making efforts to ensure “every victim we recover is handled with extreme care and compassion.”

Specifically, she said rabbis and a faith-based organization are working with the Miami-Dade Police Department “to do everything possible to handle the remains of Jewish victims in a manner consistent with the Jewish faith, and all the care and sensitivity possible.”

Approximately one-third of Surfside’s population is Jewish, according to The Washington Post.

Cava also said authorities are working on collecting and cataloging personal items, including photos, school graduation documents, jewelry and small communication devices, that are recovered from the site.

Burkett said authorities have taken core samples of concrete to “determine the strength and composition, looking for potential salt content which can significantly compromise the structure.”

“The work’s gonna go on,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) said at the news conference. “They’re gonna identify every single person, but we obviously want to do all we can for the survivors and the family members to get them on their feet as best as we possibly can. It is not going to be easy. This is a big void that’s going to be felt, not just in these families but in this community as a whole.”

“But we understand this is not something that, pretty soon there won’t be cameras here, but we understand that this is something where there’s, the need you’re gonna continue, and so we want to be there, we want to be helpful for folks,” DeSantis added.

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