Authorities searching for victims of a deadly collapse in Florida hope to conclude their painstaking work in the coming weeks as a team of first responders from Israel departed the site.
Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said on Sunday (local time) 90 deaths have been confirmed in June’s collapse of the 12-storey Champlain Towers South in Surfside, up from 86 the previous day.
Among them are 71 bodies that have been identified, and their families have been notified, she said. Some 31 people remain listed as missing.
The Miami-Dade Police Department said three young children were among those recently identified.
Crews continued to search the remaining pile of rubble, peeling layer after layer of debris in search of bodies. The unrelenting search has resulted in the recovery of more than 6.4 million kilograms of concrete and debris.
Miami-Dade Fire Chief Alan Cominsky said it was uncertain when recovery operations would be completed because it was still too hard to know when the final body would be found.
When the recovery phase began on Wednesday, officials were hoping it could be done within three weeks. In an interview Sunday near the site, Mr Cominsky said it might now be as few as two weeks, based on the current pace of work.
“We were looking at a 14-day to 21-day timeframe,” he said, adding that the timeline remained “a sliding scale”.
Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett stressed the care that rescue workers were taking in peeling back layers of rubble in hopes of recovering not only bodies but also victims’ possessions. He said the work was so delicate that crews had found unbroken wine bottles amid the rubble.
“It doesn’t get any less difficult and finding victims. That experience doesn’t change for our search and rescue folks,” he said.
“It takes a toll, but you’ve got to love the heart that they’re putting into this and we’re very grateful.”