Emergency responders conclude search for bodies at collapsed Miami condo building

Emergency responders conclude search for bodies at collapsed Miami condo building
One resident still officially missing as remains yet to be identified, death toll stands at 97

Firefighters have concluded their search for bodies at the site of the collapsed condominium building in Surfside, Floride.

The announcement came on Friday, a month after the 24 June disaster that killed 97 people when the 12-storey building fell.

Nobody has been pulled alive from the rubble since the initial hours after the collapse which came at approximately 1.20am as many residents slept.

The search-and-rescue mission was switched to a recovery effort on 7 juillet.

One woman, Estelle Hedaya, is still officially unaccounted for as the search team has been unable to identify her remains.

“They’re closing the support room, there’s nothing left, it’s finished,” Ms Hedaya’s best friend, Lisa Shrem, Raconté Le Washington Post.

“The site is even cleared below the foundation, so I feel like it’s, 'D'ACCORD, close the book.’ What could be worse than that?"

Rubble from the oceanfront Miami Beach site has been cleared and moved to a warehouse for further investigation.

For weeks, emergency responders coped with unstable debris and battled tropical storms during their search to identify victims. Their mission was halted several times when conditions were too dangerous.

The remaining portion of the building that still stood after the tragedy was demolished in a controlled explosion on 4 juillet.

Firefighters camped out at the site in the summer heat and worked 12-hour shifts.

Thanking them for their efforts, Fire Chief Alan Cominsky said: “It’s obviously devastating. It’s obviously a difficult situation across the board.”

Il ajouta: “I couldn’t be prouder of the men and women that represent Miami-Dade Fire Rescue.”

If officially identified, Ms Hedaya would bring the final death toll to 98. Her younger brother has visited the site twice and provided a DNA sample.

Officials have declined to clarify whether they have one additional set of human remains in that pathologists are struggling to identify, or whether a search for that final set of remains continues.

Her family and friends feel helpless and are worried that she will be forgotten, the Associated Press reports.

Among the dead are members of the area’s large Orthodox Jewish community, the sister of Paraguay’s first lady, her family, and their nanny, as well as a local salesman, sa femme, and their two young daughters.

The collapse of the building began a debate regarding building safety, regulations, and inspections.

UNE 2018 engineering on the building, which opened in 1981, appears to not have been acted on despite highlighting significant problems with cracked and degraded concrete support beams in the underground parking garage.

Owners of the 136 apartments and the condo board argued over the estimated costs of the project to fix the problem – expected to top $15m at the time.

No decision has been made about the future of the site, though a judge presiding over several lawsuits filed since the collapse wants it sold at market rates, which could bring in $100m.

Some condo owners want to rebuild, while others would like a memorial erected.

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