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Death toll at collapsed Florida high-rise climbs to 46 after workers recover 10 additional bodies

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Rescue crews found 10 more bodies overnight in the rubble of the residential tower that collapsed last month near Miami, bringing the death toll to 46 after demolition of the remaining structure opened up more areas for searchers.

With the latest recoveries of victims, 200 of the condominium building’s residents have been accounted for, while 94 remain missing, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said in a press briefing on Wednesday. Detectives are continuing to investigate whether all of those who are unaccounted for were inside the 12-story tower at the time of its June 24 collapse in the Surfside beach community.

“As the magnitude of this catastrophe continues to grow each and every day since the collapse, our community and the world are grieving with all of the families who are living through this unthinkable tragedy,” Levine Cava said. “Every single victim uncovered is somebody’s child, somebody’s mother, somebody’s teacher, somebody’s colleague, a classmate, a best friend.”

Sunday night’s demolition of the building’s remaining structure, which was done to prevent the casualties that could have resulted had it fallen of its own accord, made more areas of the rubble accessible to search-and-rescue workers. But there have been no indications so far of voids in the wreckage where someone could still be alive, Miami-Dade County Fire Chief Alan Cominsky said on Tuesday.

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The urgency to undertake the controlled demolition was heightened by the approach of Tropical Storm Elsa, the high winds of which could have added to the risk of a second collapse. However, the storm passed along Florida’s western coast, on the opposite side of the peninsula, and the weather cleared by Wednesday morning. Although Elsa’s outer bands brought gusts of up to 30 miles per hour to Surfside on Tuesday, work was interrupted only when there was lightning in the area.

About five million pounds of rubble has been removed from the site so far. The mayor praised the rescue crews as “superheroes,” adding that they’d built “relationships of trust” with the families of victims. She noted happily that no workers had been injured during the search.

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A partially collapsed residential building in Surfside, near Miami Beach, Florida, July 1, 2021.
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“Our first responders have truly searched that pile every single day since the collapse as if they’re searching for their own loved ones,” Levine Cava said.

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