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Death toll in Surfside condo collapse soars to 79, with 61 still missing

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The death toll in the Surfside, Fla. condo collapse rose to 79 Friday, with 61 people still unaccounted for 16 days after the catastrophe.

Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava called the discovery of 15 victims in one day “heartbreaking,” adding that recovery workers were “moving forward with great urgency,” to bring closure to the families of those still missing.

“All those who have passed … are leaving behind loved ones. They’re leaving behind devastated families. The magnitude of this tragedy is growing each and every day,” Levine Cava said at an evening press conference.

“We know that there will be long-term impacts for the teams on the front line,” Levine Cava said. “They have given so much of themselves in these first two weeks.”

Officials said they have added peer support personnel for rescue and emergency workers from Florida and other states who have been laboring at the site.

A makeshift memorial is seen near the site of the collapsed Champlain Towers South.
A makeshift memorial is seen near the site of the collapsed Champlain Towers South.
ZUMAPRESS.com

No survivors have been found since the initial hours after a large part of the Champlain Towers South collapsed on the morning of June 24.

“It’s important for us to talk,” Miami-Dade Fire Chief Alan Cominsky said of the grueling 24/7 recovery mission.

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday issued an order suspending property tax payments for residents of the building whose homes were destroyed or demolished, as city and state officials pledged financial assistance to families of the victims.

Surfside, Florida, USA: Excavators are seen working in the rubble of the Champlain Towers South collapse
There are still over 60 people missing after the Surfside collapse.
© Pedro Portal/TNS via ZUMA Wire/TNS via ZUMA Wire

Authorities are launching a grand jury investigation into the cause of the disaster, as at least six families filed lawsuits.

The precise cause of the collapse remains unclear, but an engineer flagged “major structural damage” that was reportedly ignored by city buildings officials in 2019.

On Thursday, Paraguay’s foreign minister announced that the body of a sister of the country’s first lady, Sophia López Moreira, her husband and one of her children were among the victims found in the rubble.

Search and Rescue teams look for bodies in the rubble.
Search and Rescue teams look for bodies in the rubble.
© Miami-Dade Fire Rescue/ZUMA Press Wire Service

A cat that lived on the ninth floor of the collapsed condo was miraculously found alive wandering around the rubble Friday, according to WSVN.

“It’s a little sunshine for the family,” Maria Gaspari, an animal advocate and a friend of the cat’s owners, told the station. “It’s good news in the middle of all this craziness and all this sadness. It brings hope, and we need that.”

With Post wires

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