Surfside condo collapse

Search Continues for Condo Collapse Victims in Surfside as Death Toll Reaches 95

Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said 14 people remain potentially unaccounted for in the June 24 collapse of Champlain Towers South

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What to Know

  • The Surfside condo collapse death toll rose to 95 Tuesday after one more victim was found
  • As many as 14 other people are potentially still missing in the rubble
  • Five more victims were identified including a 1-year-old girl believed to be the youngest victim of the collapse

The death toll in the Surfside condominium collapse climbed to 95 Tuesday as officials said more than a dozen others could still be missing in the rubble.

At a news conference Tuesday, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said 14 people remain potentially unaccounted for in the June 24 collapse of Champlain Towers South, an oceanside condo building in Surfside.

Of those 14, 12 are from missing persons reports, while two others still need to be verified by detectives, Levine Cava said.

Levine Cava said 85 of the victims have been identified but "the process of making identifications has been made more difficult as time goes on.”

Miami-Dade Police released the identities of five more victims, including 1-year-old Aishani Gia Patel, believed to be the youngest victim of the collapse.

The other victims identified were Andres Levine, 26; Moises Rodan Brief, 28; and 61-year-olds Mercedes Fuentes Urgelles and Raymond Urgelles.

Levine Cava said bad weather has continued to affect the search, with members of the Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department working to remove rain water from the lower levels of the collapse site.

More than 18 million pounds of concrete and debris has been removed from the site, Levine Cava said Tuesday.

Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said Monday that officials have decided to increase security around the debris pile to ensure that the site is preserved. Only authorized personnel will be allowed.

“It's obvious that this has become much more than a collapsed building site,” Burkett said. “It has become a holy site.”

Miami-Dade Police Department Director Alfredo Ramirez III said there has been “no criminality” at the site, but officials want to make sure the area is secure so crews can continue to preserve personal items found in the rubble.

Each time crews find personal possessions, they take photos and log the location using GPS. They have made a grid of the pile, knowing approximately where each family's condo unit should be. Detectives place the objects into a bin. They are taken to an area to be cataloged and sealed in bags. Then they are placed in a locked and guarded cargo container for later shipment to a warehouse.

For the possessions of the deceased, there will be an “estate process” to claim items to make sure they get to the proper heir, Ramirez said.

Miami-Dade police Sgt. Danny Murillo, a leader of the operation, said the process had to be designed through “trial and error” because the collapse of a residential tower “is not your everyday event.” He said it can be emotional when an item like a child's toy is found.

“We are all human,” he said.

Burkett said Tuesday that arrangements were being made to fly families of victims to and from Surfside at no cost to them, and to fly victims to their hometowns for funeral services.

AP and NBC 6
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