The confirmed death toll in the collapse of a Miami-area condominium tower has risen to 64 after crews recovered 10 more bodies from the concrete and steel ruins of the building.
A total of 76 people remained missing and feared dead, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava told a news conference on Thursday (local time), one day after local officials said no hope remained of finding survivors of the June 24 disaster.
That number could change as it remains possible that not all were in the building when it fell.
As of midnight on Thursday, the emergency effort officially changed from an attempt to find survivors to a recovery operation, destroying any hope of extracting anyone still alive in the debris.
“Yesterday was tough,” Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said at the news conference, referring to the announcement of the shift to recovery mode.
“But the work is going to go on and they are going to identify every single person.”
Ms Levine Cava told reporters that discussions had begun on doing “something different to commemorate” the tragedy and its victims.
On Wednesday, emergency workers who had spent two weeks digging through rubble joined local officials, rabbis and chaplains in a moment of silence to mark the end of the search for survivors.
An accordion player unseen on a nearby tennis court played Aaron Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man, which was followed by a piccolo playing The Battle Hymn of the Republic.
Firefighters from Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, the federal government and elsewhere were also present.
On a tall nearby fence, families and well-wishers had posted photos of the victims, supportive messages and flowers. Firefighters hung a banner atop the fence that read “Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Mourns With You”.
Officials vowed to continue the recovery efforts until they find the remains of every one of the missing.
No one has been pulled out alive since the first hours after the 12-storey building fell on June 24.
Because the building fell in the early morning hours, many were found dead in their beds.
Twice during the search operation, rescuers had to suspend the mission because of the instability of the remaining part of the condominium building and the preparation for demolition.
After initially hoping for miraculous rescues, families had slowly braced themselves for the news that their relatives did not survive.
Authorities are launching a grand jury investigation into the collapse and at least six lawsuits have been filed by Champlain Towers families.