Tunnel rescuers look for survivors in Florida apartment collapse
The Mayor of Miami-Dade, Daniella Levine Cava, said that another body was found at the scene of a collapsed building in Surfside, Florida overnight, bringing the death toll to 10 people.
She said that another 151 people were probably in the building when the building collapsed, and their whereabouts are still unknown.
“Search and rescue operations are continuing,” Levin Kava said at a press conference on Monday.
Rescuers conducted a feverish excavation on the fifth day, emphasizing that they can still find survivors in the rubble of the apartment building. Although no one has been rescued since the first hour after the building collapsed last Thursday, family members still have hope.
The death toll on Sunday only increased by four.
The families of the missing persons took a bus to a nearby location where they could watch the team working on Sunday: firefighters, sniffer dogs, and search experts using radar and sonar equipment.
Andy Alvarez, Deputy Incident Commander of the Miami-Dade Fire and Rescue Brigade, told ABC Good Morning America On Monday, rescuers were able to find some voids in the wreckage, mainly in the basement and parking lot area.
Alvarez said: “We had more than 80 rescuers destroying the collapsed walls at a time. They were frantically trying to rescue those walls that were still viable and entering the gaps we usually knew existed in these buildings.”
“We have been able to walk through the building,” Alvarez added, adding that the large crane helped rescuers lift “huge concrete blocks” from the piles. Alvarez said: “This is a crazy search to find hope, miracles, to see who we can take out of this building to live.”
He said that rescuers, like their families, still hope for good news. “You must have hope, you must have confidence,” he said.
Others who saw the wreckage up close were frightened by the task ahead. Alfredo Lopez lived with his wife in a corner apartment on the sixth floor and almost escaped the disaster. He said he could hardly believe that there were still people alive in the rubble.
“I just can’t see anyone, you know—I hope God they will find someone, but man, you know, if you see what I see: nothingness, and then you go there, you will see , Like, all the rubble. How can anyone survive?” Lopez told the Associated Press.
Nachman Shai, the Israeli Minister for Diaspora Affairs, is the head of a humanitarian delegation from Israel, which includes several search and rescue experts. He said that professionals told him some cases where survivors were found after 100 hours or more.
“So don’t lose hope, that’s what I want to say,” he said.
Some families had hoped that when they visited locations near the 12-story building, they would be able to yell at relatives who might be buried in the garbage. When they returned to a nearby hotel, several people stopped to hug them when they got out of the car. The others walked slowly back to the hotel door arm in arm.
“We are just waiting for the answer. This is what we want,” said Dianne Ohayon, whose parents Myriam and Arnie Notkin are also in the building. “It’s hard to get through these long days. We haven’t got any answers yet.”
Deadline for payment for repairs
Just days before the deadline for the apartment owners to pay the hefty cost of repairs of more than $9 million suggested nearly three years ago, the building collapsed and the report warned of “major structural damage.”
Authorities confirmed on Sunday that the remains of four other people have been found. They are 80-year-old Leon Oliwkowicz; Christina Beatrice Elvira, 74 years old; Anna Ortiz, 46 years old; 26 years old Luis Bermudez (Luis Bermudez). Levine Cava said that the number of missing persons is 151. The last person rescued was found on Thursday, just a few hours after the collapse.
Miami-Dade assistant fire chief Raide Jadallah explained that the conditions at the scene — the building was burned down when it collapsed — frustrated the staff looking for survivors. Alan Kominsky, head of the Miami-Dade Fire and Rescue Department, said his team is hopeful of finding people alive, but must continue to move slowly and methodically.
“The debris field is scattered everywhere and very compact,” he said, noting that the team must stabilize and support the debris as it moves forward.
He said: “We can’t just enter and move things irregularly, because this can have the worst results.”
According to Adrian Garulay, CEO of Spec Ops Group, which sells them, the tools used by rescuers include microwave radar equipment developed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the Department of Homeland Security, which can “see” solid concrete up to 20 centimeters high. The suitcase-sized device can detect human breathing and heartbeat. It was deployed by a seven-person search and rescue team from the Mexican Jewish community on Sunday.
Levin Kava said that at any time there are six to eight teams actively looking for the garbage dump, and hundreds of players are on standby at any time, ready to rotate. She said that since Thursday, the teams have been working around the clock and there is never a shortage of personnel.
US President Joe Biden said in a statement that after Criswell visited the site, he had a conversation with the Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Dean Criswell about field work. Biden said his government is ready to provide assistance and support.
“For families who endured this tragedy, this is an unimaginably difficult time,” Biden said. “At this terrible moment, my heart is with everyone who is suffering.”
On Saturday night, the crew dug a trench 38 meters long, 6 meters wide and 12 meters deep, which allowed the team to find more corpses and human remains.
Earl Tilton, who runs a search and rescue consulting company in North Carolina, said that rushing into the rubble without careful planning and execution can harm or kill rescuers and the people they are trying to save.
He said that “moving the wrong piece at the wrong time could cause it to fall on” the workers and crush them.
But Tilton was not wrong in agreeing that his family continued to have hope. He said that in past urban rescues, rescuers found survivors one week after the initial disaster.