(Reuters) – The Miami-Dade County Fire and Rescue Department on Friday declared an end to the search for more human remains in the rubble of a Florida condominium complex that collapsed on June 24, killing at least people. 97 people.
Authorities said a victim was still believed to be missing. The Miami-Dade Police Department will continue to examine what remains of the pile of debris for additional remains and personal effects, authorities said in a statement.
The 24-hour fire department operation at the Champlain Towers South condominium beachfront site was demobilized four weeks and a day after the 40-year-old, 12-story structure gave way around 1:30 a.m. the residents slept.
“In this step of the recovery process it has become increasingly difficult to identify the victims, and we rely heavily on the work of the coroner’s office and the scientific and technical process for identifying human remains,” said the mayor of Miami-Dade, Daniella Levine Cava. in a sentence.
She hailed the members of the search and recovery teams as “true superheroes.”
No one has been removed alive from the ruins since the first hours after the collapse, and authorities formally gave up hope of finding survivors on July 7.
County officials said in a statement that the confirmed death toll is 97, consisting of 96 victims whose remains were recovered from the rubble and one victim who died while hospitalized.
“We believe that the whereabouts of a victim are still unknown,” the statement said.
Investigators have yet to determine what caused the 136-unit building to collapse. A 2018 engineering report found structural deficiencies that are now the focus of various investigations, including a grand jury investigation.
The disaster has prompted officials across South Florida to study residential buildings for signs of poor construction or structural weaknesses.
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