Florida [US], July 7 (ANI): The number of confirmed deaths due to the collapse of an oceanfront condo building in Surfside, Florida has now increased to 36, informed Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava on Tuesday (local time).
Speaking at the news conference, Cava said, "The death toll increased to 36 after eight victims were found on Tuesday (local time); 109 people remain unaccounted for at Champlain Towers South," the Washington Post reported.
The mayor said 29 of the dead have been identified, adding that authorities "want to confirm every single account" of those who remain unaccounted for. She added that only some of the unaccounted for are confirmed to have been inside the building at the time of the partial collapse.
"We know that waiting for news is unbearable," she said on the 13th day of the search.
While officials remain adamant that the goal is to find survivors, the mission has become more difficult because of the impending storm that caused search efforts to be paused early Tuesday, the Washington Post reported.
Parts of Florida and the Southeast are in line for heavy rain and strong winds as Elsa sweeps north from Cuba over the next several days.
Lieutenant Governor of Florida Jeanette Nunez said the storm was expected to make landfall Wednesday morning, with winds potentially hitting 60 mph. The National Hurricane Center issued a hurricane warning for parts of the Florida Gulf Coast on Tuesday afternoon. Flooding and the "potential for a few tornadoes" also could complicate the rescue effort. Miami has seen more than three inches of rain since Monday, the Washington Post reported.
It further reported that the search efforts were halted at 1 a.m. Tuesday (local time) because of the wind, said Miami-Dade County Fire Rescue, Chief Alan Cominsky. The chief added that rescuers, who had to pump water out of the garage of what remains of the building, are looking into different strategies for how to move forward in a rescue operation that has removed 5 million pounds of concrete since June 24.
The cause of the collapse is still unknown. However, new details are emerging about the integrity of the structure noted in an engineering report in 2018.
Experts who have reviewed available data about collapse say probe into its cause should focus on potential failures near the base of the building. (ANI)