Miami building collapse: search for survivors called off after two weeks as authorities say ‘no chance of life’ | US news
Authorities have called off the search for survivors under the rubble of a collapsed apartment building in Florida, saying there is “no chance of life”.
Emergency workers turned their efforts to recovery Thursday after two weeks of searching the ruins of Chaplin’s South Towers, in Surfside, Miami.
A total of 54 bodies had been recovered from the wreckage as of Wednesday night, but officials said 86 people were still missing as investigators worked to verify whether those listed were actually missing in the apartment building at the time of its collapse.
“We asked God for a miracle, so the decision to go from rescue to recovery is a very difficult one,” Miami-Dade Mayor Daniela Levine Cava said at a press conference.
The crews used a number of strategies during their 14-day search for survivors, including the use of sonar, cameras, dogs and heavy machinery, but no one was brought out alive since the early hours after the building fell.
“They removed more than seven million pounds of concrete and debris from the hill,” the mayor continued.
“They searched for empty spaces and searched for victims. They crashed into a building they were told might collapse, and they braved fire, smoke, torrential rain and strong winds in the hope of finding people alive.”
It was a large section of a 12-storey apartment building It turned into a pile of rubble in the early hours of June 24City officials have called for the rest of them to be demolished to aid in the search and rescue operation, after fears that they could collapse on their own.
Miami-Dade Assistant Fire Chief Ryde Gadallah told the families in a private briefing: “We’ve noticed the stress, the pressure of the walls and floors, again pretty much no chance of life.
Our only responsibility at this point is to achieve the conclusion.”
Hours before the official transition from rescue mission to recovery mission, emergency workers joined local officials, rabbis and priests for a moment of silence.
Pictures of the victims, letters and flowers were placed on the nearby fence by families and well-wishers, along with a sign reading “Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Mourns With You.”
Officials pledged to continue recovery efforts until the remains of the missing are found, which is expected to take several more weeks.
Hopes of finding survivors returned soon after Workers demolished the rest of the building, allowing rescuers to reach more areas, but no one was found alive.
Instead, the teams recovered over a dozen additional victims, many of whom were found dead in their beds.
Authorities have launched an investigation by a grand jury to break down and at least six lawsuits have been filed by the Champlain Towers families.
Last week, it emerged that the building had collapsed just days before apartment owners began paying for repairs commissioned three years ago due to “significant structural damage”.
Built in 1981, the tower consists of more than 130 apartments, about 80 of which have been occupied.