Florida condo collapse toll reaches 97, search nears end


Miami, July 16 (IANS) The confirmed death toll in the partial collapse of a 12-storey residential building in Surfside, Florida, has increased to 97 as the search for more victims in the rubble was nearing the end, local authorities said.

In the weeks-long search, 240 people are accounted for, 97 victims have been recovered, 90 of which have been identified and 88 next of kin have been notified, Xinhua news agency quoted a statement released by the Miami-Dade County on Thursday as saying.

Eight people are potentially unaccounted for, all of whom have open missing persons reports with the Miami-Dade Police Department.

Speaking of the rescue crews, Alvaro Zabaleta, a Miami-Dade police spokesman, said on Thursday: “They’re almost at the bottom to be able to say, we’ve reached rock bottom, we’ve searched every inch of this property and that’s when we say, ‘Okay, we’re done’.”

Zabaleta said the search for any other possible victims would continue, adding it remained unclear how long the process may last.

The New York Times reported on Tuesday that as the search-and-recovery mission is approaching its conclusion, officials expect the final number of the deceased to reach up to 99, shy of a tally of over 100 that was previously feared.

The Champlain Towers South, a beach-side condominium, partially collapsed in the early morning of June 24.

One of the deadliest building collapses in US history, the disaster was followed by painstaking rescue efforts that shifted to recovery a week ago.

No survivors have been found since the early hours after the collapse.


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