Live Updates: Death Toll Rises to 64 as Workers at Florida Condo Turn to Recovery

Fearing the worst, thousands of people are now scrambling to the Florida Keys as Hurricane Irma continues to pound the region, leaving at least six dead and thousands without power.

The death toll keeps rising in the growing aftermath of the deadly building collapse at a condominium in Florida. At least 64 people have died and hundreds remain missing after the building, called the Pegasus, collapsed in the early hours of Wednesday, according to the Miami Herald. The latest death came as 25 people have been found alive, though five of them are still believed to be trapped in the rubble, the newspaper reported. Rescue work is still ongoing though, with hundreds of workers using heavy machinery and cutting equipment to free the trapped residents.

Here’s what you need to know:





officials stop search after apartment building collapses

Authorities atFlorida said they will focus on recovery efforts after two weeks of searching for victims, once it is determined that no survivors have been found.

It is with deep, deep sadness that I can tell you this afternoon that we have taken the extremely difficult decision to change from a search and rescue operation to a salvage operation. It’s been exactly two weeks since the Champlain South Towers collapsed, and for the past 14 days, as you all know, our search and rescue teams from the local community, from Florida, from around the country, and even around the world, have been working on this collapse. They used every strategy and technology at their disposal. These efforts allowed us to locate eight more victims, bringing the total number of confirmed deaths to 54. Thirty-three of these victims have been identified and 33 next of kin have been notified. So far, 200 people have been found and 86 are missing. So please pray with me for those we have lost and for those we mourn.

Florida authorities said that after two weeks of searching for victims, they would focus on recovery efforts after it became clear that no survivors had been found…Saul Martinez for The New York Times

For two weeks, emergency workers from around the world examined the rubble of Champlain Towers South, an oceanfront apartment complex in Surfside, Florida, that inexplicably collapsed in the middle of the night. They have recovered dozens of bodies, moved tons of concrete and saved precious family heirlooms.

This effort continued Thursday. But the Seekers are no longer looking for survivors.

After long insisting that search and rescue efforts continue even as they grew increasingly desperate, authorities issued a statement Wednesday saying they are now focusing solely on rescue efforts. They said there was no sign of life in the rubble as most of the building was destroyed on the 24th. June had collapsed.

At this point, Miami-Dade County Mayor Danielle Levin Cava said: We really exhausted all our options in the search and rescue.

Miami-Dade Deputy Fire Chief Ray Giadalla told the families of the missing Thursday afternoon that the death toll had risen to 64, according to a recording of a closed-door meeting that The New York Times obtained. Forty victims have been identified and 76 people may still be missing.

We are working day and night to find the victims and help the families as soon as possible, Levin Kawa told a news conference, adding that rescue teams were also working to recover personal belongings.

At a subsequent press conference, Levin Kawa said relatives of those killed in the collapse had visited the site on Thursday. The researchers interrupted their work at 1:20 a.m. to observe a moment of silence, two weeks after the building collapsed.

Communicating these figures was no easier, according to the mayor.

A relative of one of the victims said rescue workers had hoped Sunday’s demolition of the rest of the building would uncover survivors in the stairwell or possibly in the basement, in the crevices between cars.

Instead, he said: Nothing happened. There was only rubble and debris. Nothing.

Rescue teams arrived from all over Florida as well as Texas, Israel and Mexico, driven by frantic family members who called out the names of their missing loved ones and reported unlikely survivors of past disasters. The work was grueling and dangerous: Fires break out in the rubble, and there is a constant threat of collapse of the debris.

They did their best, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis told reporters Thursday morning. He said search teams would continue digging through the rubble until the remains of the last person were found and identified.

We are still praying for a miracle, said Surfside Mayor Charles W. Burkett. We haven’t lost all hope.

As workers this week continued to search the rubble for places where survivors might be found, it became increasingly unlikely that anyone would be found alive.

Given the facts, the chances of survival are nil, Chief Jadalla told the families at a meeting behind closed doors.

A man pays his respects to the victims of an apartment complex collapse.Credit: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

In 1956, when Uva de Aragon was a 12-year-old seventh grader, she befriended 11-year-old Nancy at her school in Havana, Cuba.

Nancy, who became Nancy Kress Levin, was Mrs. de Aragon’s first Jewish friend and willingly answered her questions about Judaism. Their friendship lasted more than six decades and continued even after the Cuban Revolution separated the girls.

Mrs. de Aragon landed in Washington, D.C., and then in Miami. Ms. Levine moved to San Juan, Puerto Rico, before landing in South Florida.

When they were both 17, Ms. Levine Ms. de Aragon to choose a wedding dress in New York. Over the years, the women exchanged letters and photographs about their lives, telling of Mrs. de Aragon’s two daughters and Mrs. Levin’s two sons.

Ms. Levine, 76, was gone by then.

She died suddenly on June 24 in the collapse of the Champlain Towers South condominium in Surfside, Florida, along with her sons, Frank Clayman, 55, and Jay Clayman, 52. Also killed were Ana Ortiz, 46, the wife of Frank Klayman, and their son Luis Bermudez, 26.

On Thursday, their families held a joint funeral for Ms. Levine, her sons and Ms. Ortiz. Hundreds of mourners attended an emotional service at Temple Sinai in Hollywood, Florida, where Mrs. de Aragon participated in the memorial for her friend.

She recalls that before she left Cuba in 1959, she and Ms. Hugh had been in the country for several years. Levine met in the school bathroom after an exam. They exchanged parting gifts: a necklace named Nancy and a bracelet named Uva.

At the funeral, Mrs. de Aragon put her hand on the back of her neck to show that she had kept her friend’s gift all these years. Ms. Levine also kept the bracelet.

Maybe somewhere among the rubble of so many ruined lives, she said, turning toward the ruins of the Champlain Towers, lies a bracelet with my name and a symbol of true friendship.





No one is providing funds for this purpose Surfside officials give an update on the collapse of.

Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Governor Ron DeSantis spoke at a briefing at the site of a condominium collapse in Surfside, Florida, about the budget and resources available to victims’ families.

No one is funding this. No one plans the necessary response. That’s why it’s imperative to stick with it for the long haul. At this point we don’t know what the demand will be. We can meet some of those needs, which we try to meet by supplementing the federal budget. Some of these may require additional emergency legislation. I will continue to work with my colleagues here to make those decisions, and I will also work with my constituents on a very personal level to see how we can help them get through the excessive bureaucracy that this tragedy brings. Because imagine a family that has lost everything, including loved ones. And of course we want to do everything we can to help the survivors and their families get back on their feet as best we can. It won’t be easy. This is a huge gap that will be felt not only in these families, but in society as a whole. But we understand that it’s not something that — very soon there will be no cameras here, but we understand that it’s something that the need will continue to hold. And so we want to be there and serve the people.

Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Governor Ron DeSantis spoke at a briefing at the site of an apartment building collapse in Surfside, Florida, about the budget and resources available to victims’ families…Maria Alejandra Cardona for The New York Times.

One day last week, between briefings and paperwork, Steve Rosenthal got a call from FedEx: The driver failed to deliver his package of laundry. Was there a better time or address to contact him?

But his bed, along with the family utensils, photo albums and belongings he had collected over two decades, was buried somewhere under the rubble of the South Champlain Towers.

Mr Rosenthal escaped the tower collapse in Surfside, Florida, with a change of clothes, a wallet, an iPad and a phone. He wasn’t even sure if he could deliver the FedEx package to the hotel where he was staying.

You have to cancel your electric bill, you have to cancel the Wall Street Journal, you have to talk to your mortgage company, Rosenthal said. You’ve never had to deal with anything like this before.

In hotel lobbies and makeshift apartments in Miami, survivors of apartment collapses try to rebuild their lives: They replace important IDs, cancel utility bills, and look up prescriptions and medications.

The Miami community supported them by donating thousands of dollars, handing out free food and supplies, providing shelter for survivors and out-of-town families waiting for news of their loved ones, and digging through mountains of paperwork to replace medications.

Once we turn to the universe and say we need X, people fill the void, said Rebecca Fishman Lipsey, president and CEO of the Miami Foundation, which helped coordinate the donations.

Victims attended what one person likened to a dystopian college fair: a room full of tables of businesses, grief counselors and official organizations to help survivors and families of the missing move on. Nearby churches and synagogues also became donation centers, where food and items were collected and distributed to the community.

Officials say mental health and trauma counseling should remain a priority for the community. Therapists and grief counselors, as well as therapy dogs, were also on hand to support the families.

Debris from two collapsed walkways is scattered in the lobby of the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Kansas City in July 1981.Credit…Pete Leabo/Associated Press

It was a Friday night in 1981 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Kansas City, and the band began playing Satin Doll by Duke Ellington to an atrium full of dancing couples in dresses and tuxedos.

Other guests watched the action from higher walkways – one two stories high, the other four – suspended from steel rods and tubular beams. In the middle of the dance, the beams separated due to the lack of structure under the weight, causing two tracks to crash to the ground.

One hundred and fourteen people lost their lives. It was one of the deadliest building collapses in the history of the country. For those of us celebrating our 40th anniversary this month, the events of the past few weeks take on new weight.

The same year as the collapse in Kansas City, MN, the Champlain Towers South in Surfside, FL, was completed.

Other major building break-ins have caused a stir in recent U.S. history. In 1922, the Knickerbocker Theater in Washington, D.C., collapsed during a showing of a silent film after a record storm covered the theater’s roof with snow. It collapsed under the weight, killing 98 people.

In 1981, just months before the Hyatt Regency collapsed, the Harbour Cay apartment complex in Cocoa Beach, Florida, east of Orlando, collapsed while workers were finishing construction, killing 11 people.

With 60 dead in the Surfside collapse and about 80 missing, this is probably the deadliest accidental building collapse in U.S. history.

Brent Wright was 17 years old when the collapse of the Hyatt skyscraper killed his mother and stepfather. When he heard the news of the building’s collapse in Florida, he was overcome with memories.

The waiting, the hoping, the uncertainty, I think that’s the hardest part, Bennett said. Wright.

Rescue workers ended their search for survivors in Surfside on Wednesday, admitting there was no hope of survival for those still under the rubble.

Wright believes that the transition from rescue to recovery, no matter how difficult it has been for families, gives them a starting point to accept the reality of their situation.

But he remembers the long and painful wait for the results of the investigation into the cause of the Hyatt accident. It may be several months before experts proceed with the evaluation of the condominium in Surfside.

It eats at you every moment of the day, and you try to find something to distract you, but unfortunately, it’s always there – it doesn’t go away, Wright said.

Sir, I want to thank you for your support. Wright and others will participate in the 40th anniversary next weekend. Kansas City crash anniversary commemorated at a memorial erected in 2015 east of the crash site.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Danielle Levin Cava told reporters Thursday that discussions have begun on how to honor the victims at the site of the Florida tragedy.

We don’t want it to be business as usual, she said.

Rescue operations continued after dark Tuesday at the site of the collapse in Surfside, Florida.Credit…Eva Marie Uzcategui/Agence France-Presse – Getty Images

It may take months for investigators to determine exactly why a significant portion of the Champlain Towers South building in Surfside, Florida, collapsed without warning last month. But speculation is already raging about the possible causes of the disaster, including design or construction defects.

Engineers who have visited the wreckage or seen photos of the building say the damaged columns at the base of the building may have less steel reinforcement than originally planned. Even if there was a shortage, some experts said it was unlikely to be the main cause of the collapse.

Florida has one of the strictest regulations in the country for high-rise buildings, where the coveted ocean view brings with it sun, rain, wind and salty air that can cause structural damage. However, these rules are not always followed, and their implementation sometimes takes longer than necessary.

The Champlain Towers South apartment board has been trying for years to convince owners to pay special assessments that can reach $200,000 to tackle major renovation projects. Improper maintenance is a problem for condominium associations across the country, with residents often hoping that future owners will cover the cost of infrastructure repairs.

In the first few days after the collapse, experts focused on the lower levels of the building, where the initial collapse may have caused a structural avalanche. Three years before the collapse, the appraiser found evidence of severe structural damage to the concrete slab under the pool deck and extensive cracking and fracturing in the columns, beams and walls of the garage.





Surfside Memorial

A moment of silence and a vigil were held at the site of the collapse of an apartment building in Surfside, Florida, after the operation officially switched from searching for survivors to recovering the remains of the victims.

Lord, in the midst of the difficulties and inexplicable tragedies that we all face, we believe that our loved ones have entered that special space that You have prepared for them, that they are embraced by the love of the Father. My sister and brother-in-law are in the building right now. You never expect to come to a place like this for one night. I got the news at 3am on the day of the accident. And I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw it. You can’t express the emotion you feel – anger, sadness. There is no way to express what all these families are going through.

A moment of silence and a vigil were held at the site of a condominium collapse in Surfside, Florida, after the operation officially switched from searching for survivors to recovering the remains of the victims.CreditCredit…Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

Stacy Dawn Fung, 54, was the first victim identified in the collapse of the apartment complex. She was the mother of John Handler, a 15-year-old boy who was pulled alive from under the rubble in a dramatic situation as he pleaded with rescuers: Please don’t leave me.

The death of Antonio Lozano, 83, and Gladys Lozano, 79, was preceded by the death of Mr. G. G., who was a member of the family. Lozano’s cousin, Phil Ferro, chief meteorologist at WSVN Channel 7 in Miami, confirmed. wrote Mr. Ferro on Instagram: They were such beautiful people. May they rest in peace.

Luis Andres Bermudez, 26, lived with his mother, Ana Ortiz, 46, and stepfather, Frank Klayman, 55. Mr Bermudez’s father confirmed his son’s death on social media, writing in Spanish: My Luio. You’ve given me everything… I’ll miss you for the rest of my life. I’ll see you soon. I’ll never leave you alone.

Manuel Lafont, 54, was a businessman who worked with companies in Latin America. His ex-wife, Adriana LaFont, said he was a better father. Mr Lafont’s 10-year-old son and 13-year-old daughter were with Mrs Lafont when the building collapsed.

Andreas Giannitsopoulos, 21, was in South Florida to meet Mr… Lafont, a good friend of his father’s. He studied economics at Vanderbilt University and was a high school decathlete. His picture is on a mural outside the school’s sports complex.

Leon Olivkovich, 80, and Cristina Beatriz Elvira, 74, were originally from Venezuela and had recently moved to Surfside, reports They were active in the Orthodox Jewish community in Chicago, where one of their daughters lives.

Marcus Joseph Guara, 52, lived with his wife, Anaeli Rodriguez, 42, and two daughters, Lucia Guara, 10, and Emma Guara, 4. Mr. Guar will be remembered as a kind and generous man, the godfather of twins and a fan of heavy rock music.

Hilda Noriega, 92, was a longtime resident of Champlain Towers South who loved to travel, and her family described her unconditional love. A few hours before the collapse, she had attended a party with family.

Michael David Altman, 50, came to the United States from Costa Rica as a child and was an avid racquetball player in his youth. He was a warm man. He has overcome many obstacles in his life and has always come out victorious, his son Nicholas told The Miami Herald newspaper.

The collapse also resulted in deaths: Ingrid Ainsworth, 66, and Zvi Ainsworth, 68; Claudio Bonnefoy, 85, and Maria Obias-Bonnefoy, 69; Graciela Cattarossi, 48, Andrea Cattarossi, Gino Cattarossi, 89, and Graciela Cattarossi, 86; Gary Cohen, 58; Magali Elena Delgado, 80; Bonnie Epstein, 56, and David Epstein, 58; Francis Fernandez, 67; Nancy Cress Levin, 76, and Jay Klayman, 52; Elaine Sabino, 71; Simon Segal, 80; Gonzalo Torre, 81; Juan Alberto Mora Jr., 32; Ruslan Manashirov, 36; Harold Rosenberg, 52; Gloria Machado, 71; and the 7-year-old daughter of a Miami firefighter, whose name authorities declined to give.

The rest of the Champlain Towers South building was demolished Sunday.Credit…Mark Abramson for The New York Times

The job offer came when Mark Loiseau returned to his office after destroying a 400-foot chimney of a coal-fired power plant in Virginia. And because it had to be done quickly, he was able to complete the project before the decommissioning of 33 wind turbines around Chicago.

Loiseau, president of Controlled Demolition, is no stranger to demolishing structures – including power plants, bridges and college dormitories – that are no longer considered safe or desirable, making his small family business ideal for demolishing the remains of Champlain Towers South.

We do structural origami, he said. Buildings are stacked.

The demolition took 6.5 seconds Sunday night as local authorities feared an approaching storm would topple what was left of the building, jeopardizing the arduous search for victims and survivors.

By demolishing the structure, Mr. Loiseau allowed rescue workers to safely reach new sections of debris. Twenty-four people were declared dead before the explosion; another thirty victims were found three days later.


Part of the Champlain Towers South building, stranded after a deadly collapse, was torn down Sunday night out of concern for its stability as tropical storm Elsa approaches Florida.CreditCredit…Lynne Sladky/Associated Press

Normally Loiseau has access to several floors, but due to the unstable condition of the apartment building in Surfside, Florida, his workers could only reach the lobby and basement. They filled the holes in the columns and walls with 128 pounds of dynamite.

The building collapses due to gravity, not explosions, he said.

Loiseau’s email account was flooded with requests to delay the demolition until more pets could be found, and he knew the surviving residents risked losing everything they had left behind, including cherished family photos.

But after the storm warnings sounded, the engineer told him the remaining structure would not be able to withstand winds of 45 mph. After waiting for authorities to evacuate the area, one of the bombers pressed a button, triggering the collapse.

They planned the explosion so that parts of the building fell at different speeds so that they could turn it around and roll it away from the large debris field, which was protected by a black industrial tarp and had not yet been searched.

From a distance of about 300 feet, Mr. Loiseau saw the building fall.

Since it was a quiet night, it only took 15 minutes for the dust to clear. He was then pleased to see that the black sail that had covered the original wreck was free of debris.

Shemi Bar-Natan is one of many restaurant owners who helped feed rescue workers and victims after the building collapsed. linked to credit Alfonso Duran for The New York Times

Ten days before the coronavirus pandemic shut down restaurants in Florida last year, Shemi Bar-Natan had just launched a new business after a decade of service in the Israeli army, opening a hummus bar less than a mile from the apartment building that collapsed last month.

The pandemic hit his town’s kosher restaurant, Vish, hard, but that was nothing compared to the two weeks since the collapse of the Champlain South Towers on June 24, which killed more than 150 people and shocked the close-knit Surfside community of nearly 6,000 and a strong Jewish community.

In the days that followed, Mr Bar-Natan, 58, went to the restaurant every day to prepare fresh falafel, hummus and tahini, and distributed more than 2,300 falafel balls to rescuers, survivors and families of the missing.

My heart goes out to them, Bennett said. Bar-Natan about the missing and the survivors of the building collapse. I will continue to do my best for the community, for the people, for the Surfside community. I come here every day with a smile on my face and say: I must serve the people well today.

While the food trucks were first on the scene to feed the rescuers, they were joined by chefs and restaurants from all over Miami-Dade County who drove through traffic for hours and diverted roads to deliver boxed food.

Chef David Shim of the Miami branch of Cote, his Michelin-starred restaurant in New York, distributed dozens of boxes of meals to relatives of the missing and survivors of a Korean steakhouse on Tuesday.

When you’re in a situation like that, the last thing you think about is going to a restaurant, Shim said. I hope there is something we can do to comfort her.

Many restaurants in Surfside have pledged to continue helping as hundreds of rescue workers recovered the bodies of 64 more people Thursday afternoon.

A view of the partially collapsed Champlain Towers South building on 25th Street. June, the day after the collapse. Credit…Saul Martinez for The New York Times

Patricia Mazzei has worked as a reporter in South Florida her entire career, first as a reporter for the Miami Herald and for nearly four years as Miami bureau chief for the New York Times. She’s no stranger to reporting breaking news, whether it’s the death of Fidel Castro in Cuba, the devastating Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico or the horrific shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida. For the past two weeks, she has covered the collapse of an apartment building in Surfside, Florida, in the Times. We asked him to tell us about this experience.

How did you find out?

Erin McCann, editor of the Times of London bureau, called at 6am. Easter. At that point, his team had been working on the story for four hours, which gave me a few extra hours of sleep, which turned out to be a very long day.

It’s never good when the editor calls at dawn; when I saw the country code for England on the phone, my heart stood still. The news sounded terrible, but it wasn’t until I saw photos of the half-destroyed building that I realized the magnitude of the tragedy.

Tell us a poignant moment from the story that you will never forget?

Shortly after I started looking up the names of the people who lived in the Champlain South Towers, I realized that I had been in the building, or at least in front of and behind it. Years ago, when I was in college, one of my college friends lived there for a summer with her family. We went there with other old classmates and spent time on the beach. Among the victims of the collapse were his parents. Many Miami residents knew or had connections to people in Champlain Towers South. It was heartbreaking.

How many journalists are working on this story in Miami? From the Times and other publications?

I think at one point the Times had a team of nine or ten people here, plus a team of great freelance reporters and photographers. Since then we have had a number of other colleagues.

Media amplification was observed in the staging area one block south of the building. Especially in the beginning many international publications appeared, especially because the building was occupied by tenants from many countries.

How long do you think the investigation will take?

As many as are needed, according to authorities, to bring back all possible victims. It looked like it would take many weeks, but the search gained momentum after authorities demolished the remaining structures of the building over the weekend. When the wobbly slabs disappeared, rescue teams were able to fully search the area, which was previously too dangerous. As long as these teams are there, we will be there.

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