The death toll after the collapse of a 12-storey condo building in south Florida has risen to nine, with dozens still missing, officials said on Sunday, as questions arose about the tower’s structural integrity.
Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said one victim had died in the hospital, while workers had pulled more bodies from the wreckage.
“We were able to recover four additional bodies in the rubble, as well as additional human remains,” she said. “As of today, one victim passed away in the hospital, and we’ve recovered eight … victims on site. So, I am confirming today that the death toll is at nine. We’ve identified four of the victims and notified the next of kin.”
Emergency workers, meanwhile, are continuing their methodical search of the site in Surfside, a shore town near Miami, at what’s left of the Champlain Towers South, which collapsed early Thursday as most residents slept. During a Saturday evening media briefing, officials said 156 people remained unaccounted for.
Officials have said they have not yet determined the cause of the collapse. However, a 2018 report showed that an engineer found evidence of major structural damage beneath the pool deck and “concrete deterioration” in the underground parking garage of the oceanfront condominium.
Further documentation showed the estimated cost of the repairs would total more than $9 million US. That included more than $3.8 million for garage, entrance and pool remediation and nearly $3.2 million for fixes to the exterior facade.
That’s according to emails from the engineering firm of Morabito Consultants that were released by the town of Surfside.
An earlier publication of another document from the firm showed the ground-floor pool deck of the 40-year-old building was resting on a concrete slab that had “major structural damage” and needed to be extensively repaired.
That report also uncovered “abundant cracking and spalling” of concrete columns, beams and walls in the parking garage.
Canadians owned units
Four Canadians remain among those who are still unaccounted for in the wake of the deadly collapse.
“This is a terrible situation, it’s shocking and it’s tragic,” Canada’s consul general in Miami, Susan Harper, told CBC News on Saturday as she stood in front of the family reunification centre, not far from the search-and-rescue site in Surfside.
Harper confirmed that the four Canadians are from two different households. Relatives from one household are making their way to Florida, as they wait for more information about the search-and-rescue operation. A relative of the other family was already in the state.
Because of privacy rules, Harper could not share the names, ages or any specific details about the missing.
Several Canadians own units in the building that has collapsed. While Harper could not provide a specific number, government officials have been able to confirm the whereabouts of all but the four missing Canadians.
But she says consular staff are working with the families to provide what information and support they can.