Fourteen days after a building partially collapsed on a surfboard in Miami, with no hope of finding a survivor in the rubble, Authorities announced Wednesday that they have suspended rescue efforts aimed at recovering the remains of the victims and have advanced to a new stage.
“We made a very difficult decision to recover the bodies from a search and rescue operation,” Daniel Levine Kawa declared, noting that 86 people were still missing.
The same announcement was previously made to family and friends at a closed door meeting, who received the news through tears as they gave up hope of finding someone alive.
Fire officials confirmed they had no hope of finding survivors of the June 24 landslide.
Ray Jadallah, head of Miami-Date Fire Operations, told families the announcement was “one of the hardest news I’ll ever give in my career.” “Our only responsibility at this point is to achieve closure,” he said, while family members cried in the background.
For two weeks, rescue teams searched the wreckage for enough space for survivors.. But now they say the probability of finding someone alive is almost nil.
“We realized that they had no chance of survival from the stress and the pressure on the walls and floors,” Jadallah said.
The death toll so far has been confirmed at 46, but has risen to 54 since eight more bodies were recovered on Wednesday afternoon. As the building collapsed in the early hours of the morning, many lay dead on their beds.
“Some people have told us that it’s almost a relief to hear this news (someone’s dead) and to finish this chapter and start moving forward,” said Miami-Tate firefighter and paramedic Maggie Castro, whose families are in permanent contact.
Since the rest of the building was controlled Sunday night, 22 victims have been rescued from the rubble, and the demolition of the remaining building will allow rescue troops to search the wider area, officials said.
No one was rescued alive in the first hour after the 12-story Sampline Towers South building collapsed on June 24. Rescuers had to stop work twice during search operations due to instability in the rest of the condominium building.
Meanwhile, authorities have launched a major arbitration investigation into the collapse and the Sampline Towers families have filed at least six lawsuits.
(With AP info)