Surfside condo collapse: Search suspended as demolition nears

SURFSIDE, Fla. — The search in the rubble at the South Florida condominium that partially collapsed last week has been temporarily suspended as crews prepare for demolition of the rest of the 12-story building, the mayor of Miami-Dade County said Saturday.

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Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said at a Saturday evening news conference that the search was suspended because “there is a threat to the standing building.”

According to the AP, Miami-Dade Assistant Fire Chief Raide Jadallah told family members that rescuers stopped their search at about 4 p.m. EDT. That is when demolition crews began boring holes into the concrete of the still-standing portion of Champlain Towers South condominium in Surfside.

Jadallah said the work stoppage was necessary because the drilling could cause the building to collapse.

If the building does collapse, Jadallah said, “It’s just going to collapse without warning.”

Levine Cava confirmed that the search-and-rescue mission was suspended at 4 p.m., adding that she was waiting “on instructions when we can safely resume” the search.

Twenty-four people have been confirmed dead at the condominium, which collapsed during the early hours of June 24. Levine Cava said 121 people remain unaccounted for, and 191 have been accounted for.

At a news conference earlier Saturday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis spoke about officials’ decisions to move up the timetable to demolish the rest of the 12-story condo in Surfside, the Miami Herald reported. Concerns about the path of Tropical Storm Elsa also figured into the decision.

“This will protect our search and rescue teams. We don’t know when it could fall over,” DeSantis said. “With these gusts, that would create a real severe hazard.”

“We have a building here in Surfside that is tottering, it is structurally unsound.”

Two more bodies were discovered overnight, Levine Cava announced Saturday morning. They were identified as Graciela Cattarossi, 48; and Gonzalo Torre, 81, according to the Miami-Dade Police Department.

So far, authorities have released the names of 20 of the victims. They have been identified as Bonnie Epstein, 56; Claudio Bonnefoy, 85; Maricoy Obias-Bonnefoy, 69; Hilda Noriega, 92; Antonio Lozano, 83; Magaly Elena Delgado, 80; Leon Oliwkowicz, 80; Gladys Lozano, 79; Christina Beatriz Elvira, 74; Frank Kleiman, 55; Stacie Dawn Fang, 54; Manuel LaFont, 54; Marcus Joseph Guara, 52; Michael Davis, 50; Anna Ortiz, 46; Anaely Rodriguez, 42; Luis Bermudez, 26; Andreas Giannitsopoulos, 21; Lucia Guara, 10; and Emma Guara, 4.

The name of the 7-year-old child was withheld at the family’s request. The police originally referred to Maricoy Obias-Bonnefoy as Maria, the Miami Herald reported.

Check back for more on this developing story.

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