The death toll at the site of the collapsed Florida condominium reached 32 Tuesday as four more bodies were pulled from the rubble, even as 113 people remain unaccounted for.
Workers continued to comb through the wreckage of the 12-story building. Half of it collapsed unexpectedly June 24, while the remainder was leveled late Sunday in a controlled implosion with the detonation of 58 kilograms of dynamite as officials expressed concerns that it might topple on its own in the winds of an oncoming tropical storm.
Nearly 2.5 million kilograms of debris have been removed from the Surfside, Florida, site in the Miami metropolitan area. Rescue officials say they are continuing to look for survivors, but none has been found since the earliest hours of the search after the middle-of-the-night collapse.
“We know that with every day that goes by, it is harder to see a miracle happening," said Maggie Castro, a firefighter and paramedic with the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Department who briefs families each day.
Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Chief Alan Cominsky told reporters Monday that search-and-rescue crews are “moving full speed ahead” and are now able to safely access all sections of the rubble pile after the remaining portion of the building was imploded.
But Cominsky said crews have to be cautious with lightning and wind gusts kicking up debris as the outer bands of Tropical Storm Elsa affect the region.
There was a two-hour delay in the search early Tuesday because of lightning.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said that with the implosion of the portion of the building left standing from the initial collapse, searchers “will be able to access every part of that pile,” including master bedrooms where people were believed to be sleeping when the collapse occurred.
Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said at a Monday evening briefing that since the rest of the building was taken down, the “site is busier and more active now than I’ve seen it since we began.”
He said heavy equipment that was unable to move around certain parts of the site in the earlier days of the search is now able to operate without limits.
The search for people, he said, “will continue 24 hours a day for the indefinite future until everybody is pulled out of that site.
The National Weather Service said intermittent storms with some heavy rains and gusty winds are expected through the day Tuesday with conditions starting to gradually improve Tuesday evening as the storm moves farther north.
This report includes information from the Associated Press.