Tears, prayer mark end to search for Florida condo survivors – News Vibe24

    Tears, prayer mark end to search for Florida condo survivors - Times of India
    SURFACE: A bleak moment of silence marked the end of a two-week search for survivors of a Florida condominium collapse as rescue workers came to official attention and clergymen hugged a number of local officials, many of them in their ranks.
    The grueling search for survivors shifted to a recovery effort at midnight Wednesday after authorities said they had come to the disturbing conclusion that there was “no chance of life” in the rubble of the Champlain Towers South building in Surfside.
    When the decision was made to go into recovery mode, “It took a small chunk of the hearts of this community,” USRep said. Debbie Wasserman Schultz at a press conference on Thursday.
    The death toll rose to 60 on Thursday morning, Miami Mayor Daniela Levin Kava said on Thursday. Officials said 80 people had no access, although detectives were still working to verify that each of those reported missing was actually in the building when it collapsed.
    Rescuers had spent two weeks digging into the wreckage, searching in vain for any sign of life, Levine Cava said.
    “They have used every possible strategy and every available technology to find people in the rubble,” he said. “They have removed more than 7 million pounds of concrete and debris from the embankment. They have used sonar, cameras, dogs, heavy machinery. They searched for gaps and searched for victims. They ran to a building they were told could collapse, and set fire, smoke, torrential rain and strong winds in the hope of finding people alive.
    Hours before the official transition from rescue to recovery mission, these emergency workers joined local officials, rabbis and worshipers in a moment of silence.
    An accordion player invisible at a nearby tennis court played Aaron Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man” followed by a piccolo playing “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”. Firefighters from Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, the federal government and elsewhere were also present.
    On a high nearby fence, families and nobles had posted photos of the victims, messages of support and flowers. Firefighters hung a banner on the fence that read “Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Mourns With You.”
    Officials have vowed to continue recovery efforts until they find the wreckage of all the missing.
    Miami-Dade fire chief Raide Jadallah told families during a private briefing that crews would stop using rescue dogs and hearing aids.
    “Our only responsibility at this point is to close,” he said, as relatives shouted in the background.
    Later, during a press conference, Yadala said that the crews remained committed to doing whatever it takes to complete the job.
    “The resources are still there. The men and women are still there. The support is still there,” said Yadala, who began to cry silently after speaking.
    Miami-Dade Fire Rescue chief Alan Cominsky said he expects the recovery effort to take several more weeks.
    Dennis Dirkmaat, a professor of anthropology and chair of the Department of Applied and Forensic Sciences at Mercyhurst University, said he expected the crews to use heavy equipment in a “bottom-up approach” to methodically lift material from the pile to collect place it in containers and evaluate for evidence of human remains. He said the process is likely to be repeated as crews move to the next floors.
    “It is still a process, a slow, tedious process of removing all this debris. And so it will take some time,” he said.
    The hope of finding survivors was rekindled shortly after workers destroyed the rest of the building, allowing rescuers access to new wreckage.
    Some of these gaps existed, mainly in the basement and garage, but no survivors emerged. Instead, teams discovered more than a dozen additional victims. As the building collapsed in the early hours of the morning, many were found dead in their beds.
    No one has retired alive since the first hours after the fall of the 12th floor on June 24.
    Twice during the search operation, rescuers had to suspend the mission due to the instability of the rest of the condominium building and the preparation for demolition.
    After initially hoping for miraculous rescues, the families slowly accepted the news that their relatives had not survived.
    “For some, what they tell us is almost a relief when they already know (that someone has died) and can just start to end this chapter and move on,” said Miami Dade firefighter and paramedic Maggie Castro , who informs families daily.
    Authorities are investigating a large-scale collapse commission and at least six lawsuits have been filed by Champlain Towers families.

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