Death Toll at Surfside Condo Collapse Climbs to 90

Recovery mission begins as mourners pray and weep at makeshift memorial.
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The Champlain Towers South building collapse is among the deadliest mass casualty building collapses in U.S. history.

Thursday marked two weeks since the Surfside, Florida condo building collapse. 

The collapse of the 12-story building took the precious lives of so many. Among the victims were a newlywed couple, a family of four, a high school student entering his senior year, a couple soon to wed, expectant parents, and older couples celebrating decades together. The ages of the victims span from 4 to 92. 

As of Sunday, the death toll rose to 90, with 31 people potentially unaccounted for, The Hill reported.

Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava held back tears as she announced during a press conference that the search-and-rescue mission had come to an end, the Sun Sentinel reported.

“At this point, we have truly exhausted every option available to us,” Levine Cava said. “We have all asked God for a miracle, so the decision to transition from rescue to recovery is an extremely difficult one."

The tragedy is among the deadliest mass-casualty building collapses in U.S. history, not including acts of terror or fires, CNN reported

The mayor, along with emergency workers, had the difficult task of telling families that there there was no chance of life still remaining in the rubble and that the search-and-rescue operation was now being shifted to a recovery mission.

The formal transition took place at midnight. A moment of silence was held around 1:20 a.m., and crews paused to honor the victims, the mayor said.

At a private briefing, Miami-Dade Assistant Fire Chief Raide Jadallah told families that crews would stop using rescue dogs and listening devices but would continue to search for remains, the Sentinel reported.

“Our sole responsibility at this point is to bring closure,” he said as family members sobbed.

Jadallah explained that the way the building collapsed, referring to it as a “pancake,” gave individuals who were inside the building the lowest probability of survival, CNN reported.

On Sunday, once the remainder of the building of the Champlain Towers South was demolished, rescuers were able to get to areas that were previously inaccessible, including the basement and the parking garage.

Over the last few days, crews found more than a dozen additional victims. Many of those residents were found dead in their beds because the building fell in the early morning hours, according to reports.

Miami-Dade Fire Chief Alan Cominsky said he expected the recovery operation to take several more weeks.

Before the news briefing ending, Levine Cava said the recovery effort is "proceeding just as rapidly, with just as many people on the pile," and authorities are "taking as much care as ever" to find victims, CNN reported. 

“We are working around the clock to recover victims and to bring closure to the families as fast as we possibly can," Levine Cava said.

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