The death toll from the collapse of a 12-story apartment tower north of Miami rose to nine on Sunday as search and rescue teams continued to search the rubble for a fourth day in the hope to find survivors.
Charles Burkett, mayor of the town of Surfside, has promised residents that authorities are fully focused on rescue operations, but need more luck. “We are not poor in resources,” Burkett said. “We didn’t have a resource problem, we had a luck problem. We just have to start getting a little better luck now. “
Burkett said search and rescue teams made “substantial” progress overnight. Officials said a fire was burning in the rubble and hamper research efforts passed away on Saturday around noon.
Rescue efforts were reinforced by teams from Israel and Mexico. A 125-foot-long, 20-foot-wide, and 40-foot-deep trench was built on the site overnight, allowing rescuers to find more bodies and human remains.
The Champlain Towers South building collapse on Thursday left 156 people missing and fueled concerns about the safety of other apartment buildings, especially the neighboring building, Champlain Towers North. Burkett said on Saturday that he had requested an emergency inspection of that building.
County officials said they would conduct extensive safety reviews of older buildings. Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said there would be a “deep dive” over the next 30 days to assess buildings approaching 40 years or older.
This review, however, would not include buildings in cities, which have their own powers, Levine Cava said, speaking on CBS News.
The New York Times reported on Saturday that an engineering consultant had found alarming evidence of “major structural damage” in the Champlain South Towers that collapsed in 2018. Burkett said on Sunday that city officials would look “in a very, very , very comprehensive “the 2018 engineering report in the building, as well as the review of other documents.
“We are now diving very deep into the documentation, into the communications that have taken place over the years with this particular building, and the other buildings for that matter, but also specifically the sister building,” he said.
But he reiterated that the rescue operation would be the top priority. “Buildings don’t collapse in America,” Burkett told ABC News. “There was obviously something very, very wrong in this building, and we have to get to the bottom of it, but not today, not tomorrow and not for a long time, because our first priority and our only priority is to get our residents of this rubble.
Levine Cava said she would “support” anyone living in the twin block who wished to evacuate and that building inspectors were dispatched to do “a more detailed examination of the structure of this building” after an initial inspection of the building. building found no concern.
Burkett said the city will provide resources for all residents who wish to relocate.
Earlier in the week, US President Joe Biden ordered federal assistance to complement state and local response efforts and declared a state of emergency. The emergency action authorizes the Federal Emergency Management Agency of the Department of Homeland Security to coordinate “all disaster relief efforts,” a White House statement said on Friday.