SURFSIDE, Fla.—The death toll from the Miami-area condo tower collapse rose to nine as the search for survivors reached its fourth day and officials pressed ahead with efforts to investigate the cause of the failure and assess the safety of nearby buildings.
Emergency crews retrieved four additional bodies and human remains from the site of Champlain Towers South since Saturday night, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said at a news conference Sunday. Because they haven’t been identified, the total number of people unaccounted for stood at 156.
Search-and-rescue workers succeeded in suppressing a fire that had generated heavy smoke and inhibited their work Saturday, Ms. Levine Cava said. Six to eight squads were combing through the debris pile at any given time, with hundreds of additional crew members standing by to rotate in. They employed rescue dogs, cameras and sonar to try to find pockets of space and potential survivors.
“We’ve been working around the clock,” she said. “We are not lacking any personnel…We have the best.”
Crews have been cutting a trench, now 125 feet long, 20 feet wide and 40 feet deep, to gain access to the depths of the rubble, Ms. Levine Cava said. That effort led to the recovery of the additional bodies. But as of Sunday morning, more than 72 hours had passed since anyone had been pulled out alive. The density of the pancaked building, compressed into a massive mound with countless layers, can appear impenetrable. Personal items such as flip-flops and neckties were visible in the debris, as were childrens’ bunk beds and wall art depicting a city skyline in the exposed top floors of the building.