Nine people are now confirmed dead from the Surfside, Fla. condominium collapse, officials announced Sunday. Additional human remains have also been found. More than 150 people are still missing.
Search and rescue efforts were being hampered by smoke from a fire that was smoldering deep in the rubble. After firefighters were able to put the fire out by around noon Saturday, crews could continue searching the rubble, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava told reporters.
Workers were able to build a trench about 125 feet long, 20 feet wide and 40 feet deep. "This trench is very critical to the continuation of the search and rescue process," Levine Cava said.
"We're really only doing two things here," said Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett. "We're pulling residents out of the rubble, and we're supporting the families. That's our only objective right now."
Officials have identified four of the victims
Since Saturday, first responders recovered eight more victims on site, and another victim passed away in the hospital, bringing the death toll to nine. Only four of the deceased have been publicly identified: Stacie Dawn Fang, 54; Antonio Lozano, 83; Gladys Lozano, 79; Manuel LaFont, 54. Officials are currently working to identify the additional bodies that have been recovered.
In 2018, engineers had discovered "major structural damage" in the 12-story building, Champlain Towers South. Now residents and officials are concerned about its sister building, Champlain Towers North.
It's "the identical building in almost every way to the one that collapsed, built by the same contractor around the same time with the same essential plans and probably with the same materials," Burkett told reporters.
After conferring with Levine Cava, Sen. Rick Scott and Gov. Ron DeSantis, local officials have made arrangements for residents of the sister building. "We have gone ahead and advised the condominium association that should they feel uncomfortable staying in that building given the circumstances, that we have alternatives for them," Burkett said.