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Florida Building Collapse Search, Rescue Operations Enter 6th Day

Rescue workers search in the rubble at the Champlain Towers South condominium in the Surfside area of Miami, Florida.
Rescue workers search in the rubble at the Champlain Towers South condominium in the Surfside area of Miami, Florida.

Search-and-rescue operations entered day six Tuesday in the rubble of the partially collapsed apartment building in Surfside, Florida.

“We have people waiting and waiting and waiting for news,” Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava told reporters, according to the Associated Press. “We have them coping with the news that they might not have their loved ones come out alive and still hope against hope that they will. They’re learning that some of their loved ones will come out as body parts. This is the kind of information that is just excruciating for everyone.”

So far, 11 people are confirmed to have died, with another 150 still reported as missing in what authorities are still calling a search-and-rescue operation despite no one being found alive since just hours after the 12-floor, 156-unit tower collapsed last Thursday.

The White House announced Tuesday that President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden will visit the scene Thursday.

Rescue teams reportedly were working around the clock, slowly picking through the rubble and twisted metal using dog teams, cranes and infrared scanners.

Asked why the process is going so slowly, Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Assistant Ray Jadallah said searching the wreckage is not simply a matter of moving large slabs of material but of going through pulverized concrete. He said much of the search is conducted by hand, and every time material is moved, other material falls into its place.

Jadallah said the process is also dangerous, saying a search and rescue worker Sunday tumbled 7 meters into an opening in the rubble. The crews have now been on the scene for more than 100 consecutive hours.

The mayor said the pace of the search process is the main question she gets from families of the missing. She said family members and loved ones have been brought to the scene to observe the process. Workers continued to use rescue dogs and sonar to find possible survivors who were living in the south building of the Champlain Towers condominium complex.

Published reports have indicated that there had been warnings regarding the structural integrity of the building long before the collapse. Local, state and federal officials at the news briefing all promised a thorough investigation into the cause of the building’s structural failure.