The death toll from the apartment collapse on the side of the waves rises to 97

92 victims of the avalanche have been identified and 92 families have been notified, according to a press release Thursday from the Miami-Dade Mayor’s Office.

“In this step of the recovery process it has become increasingly difficult to identify victims, and we rely heavily on the work of the medical examiner’s office and the scientific and technical process to identify human remains,” a press release read. “This work becomes more and more difficult with time even though our teams are working hard and as fast as they can.”

Moving forward, the county says it will only report how many victims have been identified, “out of respect for the families still waiting and to make sure we’re reporting the most accurate numbers possible.”

Once too perilous for heavy machinery and threatened by the remaining structure looming over rescuers, the remains of the Champlain South Towers are now almost flat on the ground as excavators clear away piles of debris.

According to Miami-Dade County, more than 22 million pounds of concrete and debris have been removed.

The Miami-Dade Police Department identified six additional victims of the avalanche Thursday:

  • Maria Notkin, 81
  • Michelle Anna Bazos, 23
  • Mihai Radulescu, 82
  • Valeria Barth, 14
  • Miguel Leonardo Kaufmann, 65
  • Rosa Size, 70 years old

Notkin, Pazos, Radulescu, and Kaufman It was recovered on Friday. The ministry said Valeria and Saez were found on Sunday.

“At the site of the original collapse, we are almost at the bottom,” MDPD police spokesman Alvaro Zabaleta told CNN. “Does this mean we’re about to finish the search? No. Until we’ve surveyed the entire site and haven’t found other human remains, we’re not done yet.”

Although there is no longer any hope of finding survivors under the rubble, crews have been working almost non-stop since the collapse on June 24, notwithstanding intermittent problems with hazardous conditions caused by weather and shifting rubble.

Officials in the area promised the families of the victims to work hard until all their loved ones are recovered, a task that has become even more time-sensitive.

“The identification process has become more and more difficult over time,” said Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniela Levine Cava. “We must rely heavily on the work of the medical examiner’s office … to identify human remains. The process is very systematic, careful and takes time,” she said.

During the search, 240 people were found, 97 victims were recovered, 90 were identified, and 88 relatives were notified, according to a statement from Miami-Dade County. Eight people are still missing, all of whom have open missing persons reports with the Miami-Dade Police Department.

The site was a place for tax action and formal reunions.

The tragedy affected victims from several countries in Latin America, including Colombia, Venezuela, Uruguay and Paraguay.

Surfside – a small, eclectic town of about 6,000 residents – is also home to a large number of Orthodox Jews. After the breakup when families were gathering, it was common to hear a mixture of conversations in Hebrew, Spanish, English and Portuguese.

The diverse community came together in an effort to gain strength in the faith. Temples and churches opened their arms for emergency prayer after the collapse. A vigil was held for the missing, and many prayed, sobbed and embraced the ruins of the tower appearing in the background.

“This is clearly becoming more than just a collapsed construction site. It’s a sacred site,” Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said earlier this week.

Hectic 911 calls from the first moments of the crash

911 calls during the first moments of the fatal collapse reveal chaos and confusion among residents and witnesses as the building collapsed.

“It looks like something underground, everything exploded,” one caller told the dispatchers, adding that it sounded like an earthquake.

Another caller, telling dispatchers that they are in a parking garage, called for help.

911 calls from the collapse of the Surfside apartment reveal confusion and chaos as the building collapses

“I know the police are already here. Can anyone help me out please?” The caller begged. “I managed to escape, but I’m outside in the parking lot. If the building falls, it will come down on my head.”

A caller told the dispatchers that their sister lived in the building, but she was confused about what had happened and how the people would be saved.

“I don’t know if something happened to her,” said the caller, “but half of the building is no longer there.” “There are two people, they’re alive, but they can’t get out because there’s no building across from their apartment.”

CNN got these frantic phone calls and transcribed them about three weeks after the fall of Champlain Towers South.

Collapse spurs reviews for building safety

The deadly collapse has sparked building safety reviews across South Florida, as officials and residents scramble to see how vulnerable old structures are.
Miami-Dade requires building owners to hire an engineer to inspect their structures every 10 years after they reach the age of 40 — a requirement first passed after the collapse of an office building in Miami in 1974 that killed seven people. Champlain Towers South is set to turn 40 this year.
The latest city to have a review is Boca Raton — a city of nearly 100,000 residents — where Mayor Scott Singer said Tuesday that his city council plans to begin the process of reaccrediting a building similar to protocols in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties.

But Singer noted that there will be key differences, including a shorter timeline for building re-accreditation and greater reporting requirements.

The mayor added that officials are considering asking the buildings to be re-certified after 30 years or less, but that details will be discussed further in the next few weeks as the city council rolls out the measure.

Wave inspectors have visited the South Champlain Towers dozens of times.  Now his collapse has sparked calls for reform
“Our employees have been doing a thorough inventory of our buildings,” Singer said at the city meeting that was broadcast live on Tuesday. “I thought it was very important to be proactive, to set stricter requirements, and to ensure people that we are taking bigger steps for their safety.”

Boca Raton is located 38 miles off the Atlantic coast of Surfside.

Shortly after the collapse, Miami-Dade County Mayor Levin Cava said officials would review buildings over 40 years old and more than five stories high, “to make sure everything is OK” with appropriate certification.

In nearby Sunny Isles Beach, Deputy Mayor Larisa Svichin said inspections of old apartment buildings will begin immediately.

The City of Miami sent a letter to buildings urging them to conduct new inspections of those buildings over six stories tall and over 40 years old.

CNN’s Aya Amroussi, Tina Burnside, Kelsey Smith, Rebecca Reese, and Faith Karimi contributed to this report.

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