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Sundial

At Least 11 Found Dead At Surfside Condo Collapse As Search Efforts And Investigations Continue

Photos and flowers of the missing adorn a fence near the Champlain Towers South building in Surfside, Fla.
EMILY MICHOT
/
Miami Herald
A growing memorial wall of flowers and photos at the intersecition of 88th St. and Harding Ave near the collapsed Champlain Towers South Condo at 8777 Collins Ave in Surfside June 28, 2021.

Day five of search-and-rescue efforts continue in Surfside, after the partial collapse of the Champlain Towers South building.

This post has been updated.

On this Monday, June 28, edition of Sundial

Search And Rescue Efforts

Eleven people are now confirmed to have died after the Champlain Towers South condo building in Surfside partially collapsed early Thursday morning.

Fire and thick smoke that came with it complicated rescue efforts over the weekend.

But search-and-rescue efforts continue into day five for the 150 other people who are still reported missing, as of Monday afternoon.

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"These people are trained and live to save lives, that is their passion, their motivation," said Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava on Sundial. "They are just pursuing this fully with all of their resources, all of their energy, and nothing is being left."

Those assisting Miami-Dade Fire Rescue in the rescue efforts have experience with other disasters like the 2010 earthquake in Haiti and the attacks of 9/11.

The county is having briefings with the victims' families twice per day to provide them with information on the process. Over the weekend, families were able to visit the site in small private groups.

"Then, from a religious perspective, many of them are devout Jews who follow certain traditions about burial. How will that be handled? So these are very, very deep, personal, heart-wrenching conversations," Levine Cava said.

Investigations Underway

A team of six scientists and engineers with the National Institute of Standards and Technology have been dispatched to the area to begin an investigation into what could've been the cause of the collapse.

"They're talking to the first responders on the scene. They should be talking to residents of the building who survived, who can give them insights about the current conditions, like I said, this is the first step of the process," said WLRN reporter Danny Rivero.

During this time they are also collecting materials, photos and videos of the scene.

Find more of Rivero's reporting on the ongoing investigations here.

Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett talked to NPR Saturday about his concerns regarding an identical condo building near the collapse that was constructed by the same builder.

"We need to go through that building, given the other one fell down for absolutely no reason that we can imagine," said Burkett on Sundial. "We've given the residents an option to move out if they want, while the inspections go on, or stay if they like."

He added that the engineering firm Surfside has been working with did not mandate evacuations for that building because there is no direct evidence that something similar could happen, only "circumstantial evidence."

What The Community Needs And How To Help

Sundial also heard from WLRN healthcare reporter Verónica Zaragovia, who grew up close to the community of Surfside.

"It feels like a little 'shtetl,' as we say in Yiddish. It's just like a very Jewish community, strong historic Jewish presence with a lot of Latinos, Jewish and non-Jewish [people]," said Zaragovia. "Everybody who lives there in the area knows of that building or knows people who live there or just kind of feels this on a more personal level."

You can find some ways to help the victims of the Surfside condo collapse here.

Beyond the financial help, she added that the community needs emotional support, too.

"Just being there, going and standing with people and hoping along with everybody that that more people will turn up alive," Zaragovia said.

Leslie Ovalle produces WLRN's daily magazine program, Sundial. She previously produced Morning Edition newscasts at WLRN and anchored the midday news. As a multimedia producer, she also works on visual and digital storytelling.
Chris knew he wanted to work in public radio beginning in middle school, as WHYY played in his car rides to and from school in New Jersey. He’s freelanced for All Things Considered and was a desk associate for CBS Radio News in New York City. Most recently, he was producing for Capital Public Radio’s Insight booking guests, conducting research and leading special projects at Sacramento’s NPR affiliate.