Surfside Mission Changed at Midnight

Families are told of the switch from rescue to recovery
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 7, 2021 7:30 PM CDT
Updated Jul 8, 2021 12:17 AM CDT
Surfside Mission Changes at Midnight
Search and rescue team members depart after working the debris field of the 12-story oceanfront condo, Champlain Towers South, Wednesday in Surfside, Fla.   (Al Diaz/Miami Herald via AP)

On the 14th day of their search for survivors in the Florida condo collapse, rescuers conceded that they wouldn't find anyone alive in the rubble. And so at midnight, the crews' mission at the Surfside site transitioned from rescue to recovery. The AP reports a "somber moment of silence" was held. No sign of possible life has been detected since the first few hours after the collapse, officials said. A fire official told families of the missing on Wednesday evening that "just based on the facts, there's zero chance of survival," the New York Times reports. "Our sole responsibility at this point is to bring closure." More:

  • Another rescue official said the way the building went down didn't allow a way to live through the disaster, per CNN. "Typically an individual has a specific amount of time, in regards to lack of food, water and air," he said. "This collapse, you know, just doesn't provide any of that sort."

  • One relative said he knew there was no hope for his family members when he saw the video of the collapse, per the Washington Post. "To be honest, it’s been a search and recovery from Day One,” he said. But he added that families still want the victims' bodies recovered. "We can't even properly begin the grieving process, because we're still waiting."
  • Another family member of a victim said the decision was realistic. When the remaining part of the building was demolished, rescuers had hoped to find indications of life in gaps between cars in the basement, or in a stairwell, or some other void. "There was nothing," he said. "It was all rubble, and crushed. Nothing."
  • Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava expressed the massive effort that rescuers put in over those two weeks: "They’ve removed over 7 million pounds of concrete and debris from the mound. They’ve used sonar, cameras, dogs, heavy machinery. They’ve searched for void spaces and they’ve searched for victims. They ran into a building they were told could collapse, and they braved fire, smoke, torrential rain, and strong winds in the hopes of finding people alive."
  • The death toll Wednesday evening was 54, with 86 people listed as missing.
(Read more Florida condo collapse stories.)

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