More dead, 152 still missing: Fear of high death toll in Florida grows

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Three days after the devastating collapse of half a high-rise building in Florida, more bodies are being recovered. Well over 100 people are still considered missing, but due to the circumstances, hopes of finding them alive are fading. A lawsuit is already underway against the building’s owner.

After the partial collapse of a high-rise building in Florida, the number of dead has risen to nine according to authorities, 152 people are still considered missing. This was confirmed by Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava yesterday (Sunday). Four more bodies had been found in the rubble, moreover, other human remains had been discovered. In view of the many still missing, the total number of dead remains “extremely uncertain.”

In addition to the hundreds of helpers, rescue dogs, sonar equipment and drones, as well as infrared scanners, two large cranes and two excavators are now being used to search for those buried under the rubble. Experts from Israel and Mexico are helping with the search. “It’s an extremely difficult situation,” said Fire Chief Alan Cominsky. “Our rescue teams are working non-stop, doing everything we can, searching every nook and cranny and not giving up hope of finding survivors.”

The disaster occurred Friday night in Surfside, a town on an island offshore from the city of Miami. Of the more than 130 homes, about 80 were reportedly occupied at the time of the disaster. Some residents were still able to climb stairs to safety or were rescued from balconies. It is feared that many, however, were surprised in their sleep. Authorities therefore fear that the number of victims will rise significantly.

Class action lawsuit against owners

It is not yet clear why the twelve-story building partially collapsed. According to local authorities, repairs were being made to the roof of the structure, called Champlain Towers South, among other things. According to media reports, the building had been constructed near Surfside Beach in 1981. Authorities say it is unclear why the building partially collapsed.

However, a 2018 report released by the town of Surfside noted “major structural damage” as well as cracks and crumbling in the building’s basement even then. According to the report, expert Frank Morabito called for the damage to be repaired in a timely manner. Most of the damage was “likely caused by years of exposure to the corrosive salt air of the South Florida coast,” the report said at the time. Without remedial work, “the extent of concrete deterioration will expand exponentially.”

According to U.S. media, one resident has already filed a class action lawsuit against the building’s owners seeking compensation for the victims. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said Saturday that the evacuation of a nearby similar building was under review. But he said there was no indication of imminent danger.

 

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