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Death toll in Florida condo collapse up to 5 as another body found

Death toll in Florida condo collapse up to 5 as another body found

A fifth body was pulled from the rubble of the partially collapsed condo in Surfside, Florida, Saturday — as officials hold out hope that survivors can still be rescued from the debris nearly three days after the disaster.

Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava announced the new death toll during an evening news briefing, adding that rescue crews had also found other unspecified human remains during their day’s search.

Authorities also identified the bodies of three of the victims using DNA testing, dropping the number of unaccounted for down to 156. Their identities are not being released to protect the privacy of their families, Levine Cava said.

Crews continued to work around the clock scouring for survivors, using canines and sonar tech to sweep the debris pile.

“Our top priority continues to be search and rescue, and saving any lives that we can,” Levine Cava said.

“Our brave firefighters are telling us that’s the right thing to do, and we stand with them.”

Officials said the remains they find are being sent to the Miami-Dade medical examiner. Authorities are also collecting DNA samples from family members to help identify them.

A general view of the partially collapsed Champlain Towers South Condo in Surfside, Florida on June 26, 2021.
A general view of the partially collapsed Champlain Towers South Condo in Surfside, Florida, on June 26, 2021.
AP Photo/Gerald Herbert

The first victim of the collapse was identified on Friday as 54-year-old Stacie Fang, according to the Miami-Dade medical examiner.

The Champlain Towers South had a large number of foreign nationals, and family members are being rushed to the area to provide DNA to expedite rapid testing, officials said.

“My office in conjunction with other congressional offices has been responsible for helping to obtain visas, very quickly for a lot of people who need to travel here,” explained Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla).

Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava says rescue crews are working tirelessly in their effort to find survivors of the partial building collapse.
Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava says rescue crews are working tirelessly in their effort to find survivors of the partial building collapse.
AP

“My understanding is that most of them are either here now or are in route,” Rubio added.

Rubio praised the federal response and said FEMA and the State Department were on site helping victims and family members.

“Unlike other disaster situations, in this situation, all victims that have been impacted by this are going to be registered through the family center that’s located here,” Rubio said, as a heavy rain began to fall.

“They will then be channeled towards FEMA to determine… what services they are eligible for from the federal government.”

Authorities are now using DNA testing to identify the bodies of victims pulled out of the rubble in Surfside, Florida.
Authorities are now using DNA testing to identify remains pulled out of the rubble in Surfside, Florida.
AP

Residents of the 12-story building’s sister tower, Champlain Towers North, will also be given financial assistance if they choose to relocate while local inspectors do a “deep dive” to assess the building’s stability. No evacuation orders had been given, officials said.

“Given that we can not determine what made Champlain South fall down, it’s understandable that they are nervous,” Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said.

Although more than 48 hours had passed since the last survivor was pulled from the rubble, officials remained hopeful Saturday evening.

Rescue crews use construction vehicles in their attempt to clear through the debris of the partially collapsed Champlain Towers South Condo.
Rescue crews attempt to clear through the debris of the partially collapsed Champlain Towers South Condo.
AP

“We’re going to continue searching, hopefully with a positive outcome,” Miami-Dade Fire Chief Alan Cominsky said.

About the author

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James Partridge

James has worked in various news organizations and now aims to make Stock Market Pioneer one of the best and fastest growing news websites in the U.S. He contributes to the US and World sections.

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