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Rescue teams recovered three bodies after the partial collapse of a residential building in Surfside, Miami, and the death toll rose to four, confirmed on Friday the mayor of the county, Daniella Levine Cava.
The number of people missing has also risen from 99 to 159, as a result of more information about how many people were in the Champlain Towers building when the northeast wing collapsed on early Thursday.
Levine Cava stressed that there remains “hope of finding people alive” and the search through the mountain of rubble will continue despite the “extreme risk” it poses to rescuers.
In a press conference, the mayor highlighted the work they are doing and said that they are so motivated that there are times when they have to be “pulled out” from the jumble of materials of the collapse, where today they began to work with heavy machinery to remove part of the debris and facilitate the search.
The more than 100 rescuers, who have worked in shifts throughout the night, have not heard voices but have heard sounds that may not necessarily be produced by humans but may be due to movements of the piled up materials and it is in those places where they search more carefully, according to a spokesman for Miami-Dade firefighters.
Miami-Dade Police Director Freddy Ramirez stressed that the identification of the bodies found last night will begin immediately.
The northeast wing of the Champlain Towers building collapsed in seconds at 1:30 A.M. local time when residents were sleeping.
DNA samples to identify victims
In total, 102 people from the stricken building have been located, according to Miami-Dade’s mayor.
The family reunification center a few blocks from Champlain Towers is beginning to take DNA samples from people with missing relatives to facilitate identification when bodies are found in the rubble, NBC 6 reported.
Those people are desperate to find their loved ones more than 24 hours after the collapse of 55 apartments in the building, but are holding out hope for a “miracle,” as some have called it.
Rescue teams have tunneled through the mountain of rubble from the building’s garage and are working with trained dogs and sonar equipment to find signs of life.
The 12-story, 136-apartment beachfront building, which opened in 1981, had just undergone a mandatory 40-year inspection.
According to experts, it will take months and perhaps years to determine the causes of the collapse.
Local 10 reported that on Thursday the first lawsuit was filed against the Champlain Towers association for $5 million.
Personnel from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will join the search for possible survivors and will also help with assistance to family members, according to Daniella Levine Cava.
The assistance offered by the federal government is possible after Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, at the request of the mayor, declared an emergency in Miami-Dade County due to the partial collapse of the building in Surfside, a small town with a mostly Jewish population.
Among the missing there is a diversity of nationalities, including many from Latin America.