Florida officials announced Wednesday that they will end the search for survivors of the Miami-area building collapse and shift their focus to recovery efforts after searching for nearly two weeks.
“Just based on the facts, there’s zero chance of survival,” Assistant Chief Ray Jadallah of Miami-Dade Fire Rescue said in a briefing with families of those missing, The New York Times reported.
Jadallah said the workers will now focus on recovering dead bodies.
In one area of the Champlain Towers wreckage, Jadallah described four floors that had collapsed onto each other “and the separation between the four floors was a total of three feet.”
This “pancake” collapse does not have any “voids” or “a pocket of space” in which a person could survive, according to Jadallah.
Officials had also taken into account how long a person can survive without air, water or food before deciding to call off the search.
“We have all asked God for a miracle,” Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said at a news conference.
“So the decision to transition from rescue to recovery is an extremely difficult one.”
Florida officials had promised to search for survivors for as long as there was a chance of rescue following the complex collapse on June 24.
As of Wednesday, 54 people are confirmed to have died in the collapse and 86 people are still missing.
The Florida rescue teams had been joined by teams from Texas, Israel and Mexico to search for survivors.
Douglas Berdeaux, whose sister-in-law was officially named among the dead, said the rescue teams had been “exemplary.”
“They left nothing to chance,” he said. “Nothing. Every opportunity that they had to do something, they took advantage of it, every single thing.”
The announcement came as survivors of the building collapse visited the site of the wreckage.
“They went there for closure,” Levine Cava told The Times, “and what they realized is how fortunate they were to be alive, to have been rescued from that building.”
A class-action lawsuit has also been filed against the association that operated the 12-story condominium.
The suit was filed prior to the public release of a 2018 report that warned of “major structural damage” to the concrete pad the 12-story building rested upon.
According to WPTV-TV, the suit seeks $5 million in damages because of what it calls the Champlain Towers South Condominium Association’s “failure to properly protect the lives and property of Plaintiff and Class members.”
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.