SURFSIDE, Fla. – The death toll in the Miami-area condo building collapse rose to 46 Wednesday after workers extricated 10 more victims from the rubble, authorities said.
Mayor Daniella Levine Cava fought back tears as she made the announcement, in English and Spanish, adding that 32 of the victims had been identified and their family members notified.
“Our commitment to this mission is deeply personal,” Levine Cava said of the rescue teams that have been working around the clock for two weeks. “We are so grateful to these every-day heroes. They are superheroes.”
More than 90 people remain unaccounted for, she said. Detectives were working to determine whether all the missing were actually in the Champlain Towers South building when it fell.
Strong winds from Tropical Storm Elsa caused some issues Tuesday with cranes brought in to move debris, but the storm mostly bypassed the area, authorities said.
“Search and rescue has continued, and we are fortunate that the weather has cleared this morning,” Levine Cava said.
Miami-Dade Assistant Fire Chief Raide Jadallah said crews “did some significant removal of the pile and were able to get down to various areas to inspect.”
The latest somber discoveries were made hours after journalists were for the first time allowed near the massive debris pile, although access was limited to the part of the building that was imploded three days ago. Access was not allowed on the east side, where about 200 search-and-rescue workers toiled on the rubble pile from the original collapse.
The air was thick with humidity and dust. The mountain of rubble was dominated by massive chunks of concrete, rebar sticking out, bed frames and air conditioners.
Gov. Ron DeSantis, speaking at a news conference Wednesday morning, said it was unclear whether flaws in the structure were unique to the building, its construction or maintenance. Also unclear are the implications of the collapse for new regulations across the state.
“I think we need to get those definitive answers,” he said.
DeSantis discussed the impact the tragedy has had on Surfside, all of Florida “and throughout the world.” More than 500 first responders from across the state and nation are working at the site, he said. He also lauded the work of those working to find bodies – and survivors.
“First responders are invested in this mission,” he said. “You gotta pull these guys off that pile, they want to be there … and it is something really deep in them in terms of accomplishing the mission.”
No survivors have been found since hours after the collapse two weeks ago. It was not clear how long the search would continue, or when it might be designated a recovery mission rather than a rescue one.
Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said engineers were running tests at the Champlain Towers North building to see whether it had structural problems. An analysis of the data could take months, he said.
Burkett said that $3 million has been collected or pledged to help families. Money is still flowing in, he said, and money will begin flowing to families immediately.
DeSantis said Florida residents are still grieving deeply.
“I don’t think the state is ever quite going to be the same,” DeSantis said.
Contributing: James Call, USA TODAY NETWORK-Florida Capital Bureau; The Associated Press