Two weeks after the tragic collapse of a Surfside condominium, teary-eyed crews and officials paused for a moment of silence Thursday as efforts shifted from rescue to recovery.
Confirmed deaths rose to 64 and 76 people remain potentially unaccounted for as officials declared there is “no chance of life” in the rubble of Champlain Towers South.
“We have now officially transitioned from search and rescue [to] search and recovery,” Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava announced during a daily press briefing of the collapse.
Despite switching gears 15 days after the collapse, Levine Cava said that crews will continue to work around the clock “with all speed and urgency” recovering victims.
So, what’s the difference between rescue and recovery?
“Rescue” refers to searching for a missing person when there is a chance at survival, the Miami Herald reported citing the National Association of Rescue Divers. “Recovery,” on the other hand, is when the missing person is presumed dead.
Miami-Dade Fire Chief Alan Cominsky said Thursday afternoon that no one has been pulled from the rubble alive since the first few hours after the building collapsed on June 24.
Some family members of victims expressed concerned that search efforts would become stop-and-go as efforts transitioned from rescue to recovery, but Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett says that will not be the case.
Burkett said he was assured that the “Miami-Dade Fire Department will not stop working until they’ve gotten to the bottom of the pile and recovery every single one of the families missing loved ones.”
Highly-trained K-9s will no longer be used to help sniff out survivors, but heavier machinery will be brought in to help dig through the piles of concrete.
“We are expecting the progress to move at a faster pace with our recovery efforts,” Cominsky said.
With the Miami-Dade Police Department taking over recovery efforts, Director Alfredo Ramirez said “nothing has changed,” with the exception of community-donated wellness and mental health services for first responders.
“The momentum, the tempo is still the same,” Ramirez said. “This is going to be a long process and it’s important that we keep that tempo and we keep our people fresh and we look out for them and make sure that they’re operational.”
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