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Miami: Search for building collapse survivors ends with 'no chance of life'
8 July 2021, 20:07 | Updated: 8 July 2021, 21:03
The search for survivors in the rubble of the collapsed building in Miami has come to an end with 80 people still unaccounted for.
The mission officially transitioned from a search and rescue operation to a recovery mission at midnight on Wednesday, with the death toll hitting 60 on Thursday.
“It is with deep, profound sadness that this afternoon I am able to share that we made the extremely difficult decision to transition from operation search and rescue to recovery,” said mayor of Miami Dade Daniella Levine Cava at a press conference on Wednesday.
“At this point we have truly exhausted every option available to us in the search and rescue mission so today is about beginning the transition to recovery so that we can help to bring closure to the families who have been suffering and waiting for news.”
Officials and emergency workers had a moments silence near the site on Wednesday evening to remember those who died or who were still missing.
In tribute to lives lost, our rescue teams held a moment of silence & prayer near the Surfside building collapse. With heavy hearts, we begin search & recovery efforts, and will continue to give our all as our commitment still remains to reunite families with their loved ones. pic.twitter.com/FJ7GKWXhXn— Miami-Dade Fire Rescue (@MiamiDadeFire) July 8, 2021
At a press conference on Thursday, Ms Cava said that 60 people have now been confirmed dead, 35 of whom have been identified.
She said that a further 80 are “potentially” unaccounted for, with work ongoing to establish exactly how many of those reported missing were in the building at the time of the collapse.
Ms Cava added that recovery work is continuing with “all speed and urgency” and that the emergency services were “working around the clock to recover victims and bring closure to the families as fast as we possibly can”.
At Wednesday's press conference, she said sharing the news of the transition with families was “devastating”, and paid tribute to the emergency services, who she said “used every possible strategy and every piece of technology available to them” to find survivors.
“They ran into a building they were told might collapse, and they braved fire, smoke torrential rain and strong winds in the hopes of finding people alive,” she said.
“I could not be prouder of our extraordinary team, the men and women from here, at home, and from around the world, who have given this search everything they have.”
It has now been two weeks since the building collapsed.
The cause of the collapse is not yet known, but authorities are launching a grand jury investigation and several of the victims' families have filed lawsuits.