Surfside death toll jumps to 60 one day after shift from search-and-rescue to recovery

Two weeks after the building collapse at Surfside, Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said 60 bodies have been recovered from the rubble, as authorities pledged on their first official day of search and recovery to find every single victim.

The work continues with all speed and all urgency,” said Levine Cava during a press briefing on Thursday morning.

First responders paused their work briefly at 1:20 a.m. to honor the victims of the collapse and mark two full weeks since the partial collapse. As of Thursday morning, 80 people remained missing, Levine Cava said.

Levine Cava said in the recovery process, responders will be particularly looking for personal items including legal documents, photo albums, wallets, jewelry, school graduation documents, religious items, phones and more.

Particular care is being taken to ensure proper Jewish burial rituals are observed and rabbis are present on site to perform ritual prayer over recovered Jewish bodies, Levine Cava said.

After officials announced the mission at the site of the partial building collapse in Surfside had shifted from search-and-rescue to recovery, candles lined the ground before the makeshift memorial wall, some of them still burning from the night before.

At the foot of the chain-link fence, adorned with stuffed animals, photographs, a Puerto Rican flag, a cardboard sign reading “Strength, Faith, Hope, Love,” and slowly wilting flowers, lay a new trove of objects, some of which a police officer nearby said had been recovered from the site of the collapse and brought to the wall by first responders.

A pack of cigarettes, a psalm book, a stapled paper handout on “critical incident stress management,” black slippers, plastic wrap from an emptied flower bouquet, and a children’s toy water gun all lay inches apart before the wall.

Neighbors, friends, and family members mourning the loss of their loved ones had brought makeshift white tomb-like markers, each with a blue heart, to the site of the wall. Each held the name of one of the announced victims of the collapse and a black Sharpie on a string, so community members could leave messages. “I love you,” was inscribed on several of the markers.

One blackened T-shift on the ground read “To the stolen lives of Miami.” A yellow sign on the fence said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

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