Search-and-rescue teams pulled two more bodies from the concrete and steel rubble of a partially collapsed Florida condominium tower on Monday, bringing the death toll to 11 with 150 people still listed as missing four days after the disaster.
Pouring rain and slabs of cement hampered round-the-clock efforts to pick through debris left from the unexplained cave-in of nearly half of the 12-floor, 156-unit building, in what may end up as the deadliest unintentional structural failure in U.S. history.
No survivors have been pulled from the ocean-front ruins of the Champlain Towers South condo in the town of Surfside, near Miami, since the first hours after the building abruptly crumbled into a heap early on Thursday as residents slept.
“We have people waiting and waiting and waiting. That is excruciating,” Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava told an afternoon news briefing on Monday, referring to friends and family members of the missing.
“They are coping with the news that they might not have loved ones come out alive and still hoping that they will,” the mayor said. “Their loved ones may come out as body parts.”
Rescue crews, including experts sent by Israel and Mexico, were using cranes, dogs and infrared scanners to identify signs of life in the ruins, although hope was diminishing as time wore on.
What caused the 40-year-old high-rise to give way remained under investigation, but initial attention focused on structural deficiencies identified in a 2008 engineer’s report released by Surfside city officials.
The condo association president warned residents in an April 2021 letter that visible concrete deterioration in the parking garage beneath the building had “gotten significantly worse over the years,” along with roof damage, and urged them to pay some $15 million in assessments needed make repairs, The Wall Street Journal and USA Today each reported on Monday.
The letter’s author, Jean Wodnicki, survived Thursday’s collapse, the newspapers said.