Condo collapse death toll rises to 78 as recovery continues, 'staggering and heartbreaking': mayor

Condo collapse death toll rises to 78 as recovery continues, 'staggering and heartbreaking': mayor

July 9, 2021

Officials hold press conference on Surfside, Florida building collapse

The Surfside condo collapse death toll reached 78 on Friday, as officials gave a somber update at the site of the partial condo collapse more than two weeks ago.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, speaking at the site of the tragedy as recovery efforts continue, called the number of dead “staggering and heartbreaking.” 

Miami-Dade County Mayor, Daniella Levine Cava, center, stands with other officials in from of the rubble that once was Champlain Towers South in Surfside, Fla., Wednesday, July 7, 2021. Members of search and rescue teams and Miami-Dade Fire rescue along with police and workers who have been working at the site of the collapse gathered for a moment of prayer and silence next to the collapsed tower. (Jose A Iglesias/Miami Herald via AP)

A total of 47 victims have been identified, and their next of kin have been notified, the mayor said, with detectives addressing next of kin in-person as a means of providing some closure.

Overall, 200 individuals are now accounted for and 62 remain missing, Cava said. 

Two individuals involved in the recovery effort required medical attention – one with a “cardiac episode” and one who suffered lacerations. 

At midnight Wednesday, the mission shifted from a search and rescue operation to a recovery effort, meaning authorities had little hope that they could find additional survivors. More than two weeks have now passed since the initial collapse on June 24. 

Many of the victims were found crushed to death in their beds, officials said.

Recovery workers have now reduced the rubble pile, which originally stood some four to five stories tall, down to almost ground level. 

No survivors had been found since the first few hours following the abrupt partial collapse, which happened as dozens of victims were believed to have been asleep.

Recovery efforts focused on a stairwell in which officials hoped to find trapped individuals, but so far no efforts have returned positive results. 

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An investigation into the cause of the collapse is ongoing and at least a half-dozen lawsuits have been filed in connection with the incident.

Fox News’ Michael Ruiz contributed to this report, as well as The Associated Press.

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