Surfside, Florida Condo Collapse: Rescue teams pull in more resources as children are identified among 18 killed

Lucia Guara, 10, and Emma Guara, 4, were identified on Wednesday as two of the 18 people confirmed to have been killed in the condominium building collapse last week, Mayor Danielle Levine Cava said. 145 people are still missing.

“Any loss of life – especially given the unexpected, unprecedented nature of this event – is a tragedy, but the loss of our children is too great to endure,” said Cava.

One of the girls was a Miami-Dade County public school student, principal Alberto Carvalho said. A total of 17 of Carvalho’s students lived in the building – he contacted 15 and one went missing, he said.

Now he says he prayed that your district wouldn’t have to grieve for another student. “The weight in my heart is unbearable,” Carvalho told CNN.

In hopes of providing answers to the families of the missing, rescue teams have worked endlessly to break through 13 to 16 feet of concrete that collapsed while many residents were sleeping.

Those at the Champlain Towers South location went to such lengths that a member of a fire team had to be hospitalized for exhaustion treatment, Florida State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis told CNN.

Finding the dangerous and unstable rubble is challenging, Miami-Dade County’s fire chief Alan Cominsky told reporters on Wednesday, but officials are allocating more resources to make sure the job gets done and the emergency services rest can.

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf said in a tweet On Wednesday, 70 members of Pennsylvania Task Force 1 went to assist with search and rescue efforts. The team is complemented by task forces from New Jersey, Ohio and Indiana.

A new obstacle emerged when the tropical Depression Five formed in the Atlantic – with Surfside in its extended forecast cone.

Residents offered full policy from the insurance company

Meanwhile, officials, investigators and members of the local community have asked about the structural integrity of the building and whether more could be done to prevent the horror.

A class action lawsuit filed on Monday became the third lawsuit against the Champlain Towers South Condominium Association. It states that the homeowners association had a duty to keep the building in a safe and functional condition.

In response to a lawsuit last week, an attorney for an insurance company for the condominium association said the company would provide plaintiffs with its entire million dollar policy.

In a letter filed before a Florida judge overseeing the lawsuit, attorney Sina Bahadoran wrote that James River Insurance Company, the association’s commercial liability insurer, “made a decision to voluntarily withdraw its entire amount from the attached policy for attempting a solution to offer all claims in this matter. “

A National Construction Safety Team has been set up to investigate the collapse, James Olthoff, director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, told a news conference on Wednesday.

“Based on the information we have collected, we can recommend a full technical investigation under the National Construction Safety Team Act. We will now form a team to begin carefully collecting and analyzing any information that could help us.” determine the technical cause of the error, “says Judith Mitrani-Reiser, who heads the NIST team on site.

Olthoff said the investigation will be a factual finding, not a technical troubleshooting investigation, and will not interfere with ongoing search and rescue operations.

Some reports suggest that damage to the building was made clear to the board before the collapse.

An April 2021 letter from the condominium’s chairman to local residents said that some damage seen in a 2018 engineer report, including in the garage, “has gotten significantly worse.”

“Concrete deterioration is accelerating. The roof situation has deteriorated significantly, so that extensive roof repairs had to be incorporated, ”says the letter from President Jean Wodnicki.

The 2018 report didn’t say whether the structure was in danger of collapsing. Donna DiMaggio Berger, a condominium management attorney, told CNN’s Chris Cuomo on Monday that she didn’t believe the building was in a state of disrepair before it collapsed.

“We have months and years to look into what happened and we will. The board is already in the process of hiring an engineer to try to figure out what happened and they will evaluate who will do it responsible for.”

CNN reached out to homeowners association representatives for further comments.

Stories emerge about the precious moments when survivors had to escape

The collapse happened in the early morning hours of June 24th, and while some families told wondrous stories of the seconds in which they had to process what had happened and flee, others talked about the terror.

Ashley Dean’s sister Cassie Stratton is one of the missing. She told CNN that Stratton called her husband to say the pool collapsed and the floor was shaking.

Stratton started screaming loudly, and then the phone was dead, said Dean.

A young man with muscular dystrophy, a family to be vaccinated: what we know about the collapse victims

“It was very hard to know that these were my sister’s last words and just the terrible moments she went through in those last moments before and while they broke down,” said CNN’s Dean John Berman.

Iliana Monteagudo was awakened from her sleep by a “rare force” around 1:00 a.m. that day, she told Cuomo. She thought she had left the balcony door open, so she ran to close it. But then she saw the ceiling where a crack had formed and it came down quickly from there, she said.

“Something inside of me said run,” she said. “You have to run and save your life.”

CNN’s Rosa Flores, Dave Shortell, Chris Boyette and Rebekah Riess contributed to this report.

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