HEAT ALERT

Dangerous heat continues today in Brooklyn for the first day of summer

Families of the missing visit site of Florida condo collapse

Families of the missing visited the scene of the Florida condo building collapse Sunday as rescuers kept digging through the mound of rubble and clinging to hope that someone could yet be alive somewhere under the broken concrete and twisted metal.

Associated Press

Jun 27, 2021, 4:01 PM

Updated 1,089 days ago

Share:

Families of the missing visited the scene of the Florida condo building collapse Sunday as rescuers kept digging through the mound of rubble and clinging to hope that someone could yet be alive somewhere under the broken concrete and twisted metal.
The death toll rose by just four people, to a total of nine confirmed dead. But after almost four full days of search-and-rescue efforts, more than 150 additional people were still missing in Surfside. No one has been pulled alive from the pile since Thursday, hours after the collapse.
Some families had hoped their visit would allow them to shout messages to loved ones possibly buried deep inside the pile.
Buses brought several groups of relatives to a place where they could view the pile and the rescuers at work. As relatives returned to a nearby hotel, several paused to embrace as they got off the bus. Others walked slowly with arms around each other back to the hotel entrance.
“We are just waiting for answers. That’s what we want," said Dianne Ohayon, whose parents, Myriam and Arnie Notkin were in the building. "It’s hard to go through these long days and we haven’t gotten any answers yet.”
Israeli Diaspora Affairs Minister Nachman Shai, who visited with family members, led a humanitarian delegation to Surfside that included several Israeli experts in search-and-rescue operations. He said the experts have told him of cases where survivors were found after 100 hours or more.
“So don’t lose hope, that’s what I would say. But you have everyone understanding the longer it takes, the prospects of finding someone alive goes down," he said.
“If you watch the scene, you know it’s almost impossible to find someone alive," Shai added. "But you never know. Sometimes miracles happen, you know? We Jews believe in miracles.”
Rescuers sought to reassure families that they were doing as much as possible to find missing loved ones, but the crews said they needed to work carefully for the best chance of uncovering survivors.
Some relatives have been frustrated with the pace of rescue efforts.
AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee
“My daughter is 26 years old, in perfect health. She could make it out of there,” one mother told rescuers during a weekend meeting with family members. A video of the meeting was posted by Instagram user Abigail Pereira.
“It’s not enough,” continued the mother, who was among relatives who pushed authorities to bring in experts from other countries to help. “Imagine if your children were in there.”
Scores of rescue workers remained on the massive heap of rubble Sunday, searching for survivors but so far finding only bodies and human remains.
In a meeting with families Saturday evening, people moaned and wept as Miami-Dade Assistant Fire Chief Raide Jadallah explained why he could not answer their repeated questions about how many victims they had found.
“It’s not necessarily that we’re finding victims, OK? We’re finding human remains,” Jadallah said, according to the video posted on Instagram.
He noted the pancake collapse of the 12-story building, which had crumbled into a rubble pile that could be measured in feet. Those conditions have frustrated crews looking for survivors, he said.
Every time crews find remains, they clean the area and remove the remains. They work with a rabbi to ensure any religious rituals are done properly, Jadallah said.
If crews find any “artifacts,” such as documents, pictures or money, they turn them over to police, officials said.
Alan Cominsky, chief of the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Department, said they are holding out hope of finding someone alive, but they must be slow and methodical.
“The debris field is scattered throughout, and it’s compact, extremely compact,” he said.
Debris must be stabilized and shored up as they go.
“If there is a void space, we want to make sure we’re given every possibility of a survivor. That’s why we can’t just go in and move things erratically, because that’s going to have the worst outcome possible,” he said.
In meetings with authorities, family members repeatedly pushed rescuers to do more. One asked why they could not surgically remove the largest pieces of cement with cranes, to try to uncover bigger voids where survivors might be found.
“There’s not giant pieces that we can easily surgically remove," replied Maggie Castro, of the fire rescue agency.
“They’re not big pieces. Pieces are crumbled, and they’re being held together by the rebar that’s part of the construction. So if we try to lift that piece, even as carefully, those pieces that are crumbling can fall off the sides and disturb the pile,” Castro said.
She said they try to cut rebar in strategic places and remove large pieces, but that they have to remove them in a way that nothing will fall onto the pile.
“We are doing layer by layer," Castro said. “It doesn’t stop. It’s all day. All night.”
Rescuers were also using a microwave radar device developed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab and the Department of Homeland Security that “sees” through up to 8 inches of solid concrete, according to Adrian Garulay, CEO of Spec Ops Group, which sells them. The suitcase-sized device can detect human respiration and heartbeats and was being deployed Sunday by a seven-member search-and-rescue team from Mexico’s Jewish community.
Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said six to eight teams are actively searching the pile at any given time, with hundreds of team members on standby ready to rotate in. She said teams have worked around the clock since Thursday, and there was no lack of personnel.
Teams are also working with engineers and sonar to make sure the rescuers are safe.
Crews spent Saturday night digging a trench that stretches 125 feet long, 20 feet across and 40 feet deep, which, she said, allowed them to find more bodies and human remains.
Earl Tilton, who runs a search-and-rescue consulting firm in North Carolina, said rushing into the rubble without careful planning and execution would injure or kill rescuers and the people they are trying to save, said Tilton, who runs Lodestar Professional Services in Hendersonville, North Carolina.
“I understand the families’ concerns on this. If it was my family member, I would want everyone in there pulling rubble away as fast as humanly possible,” Tilton said. “But moving the wrong piece of debris at the wrong time could cause it to fall on them and crush them.”
During past urban rescues, rescuers have found survivors as long as a week past the initial catastrophe, Tilton said.
Rescue workers identified an additional four bodies that had been recovered earlier, bringing the number of people unaccounted for to 152, the Miami-Dade mayor said Sunday.
Authorities are gathering DNA samples from family members to aid in identification. Late Saturday, four of the victims were identified as Stacie Dawn Fang, 54; Antonio Lozano, 83; Gladys Lozano, 79; and Manuel LaFont, 54.
By TERRY SPENCER and RUSS BYNUM
___
Associated Press writers Freida Frisaro in Fort Lauderdale, Bobby Caina Calvan in Tallahassee and others from around the United States contributed to this report.
(Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.)






More from News 12
2:28
HEAT ALERT: Hazy heat sticks around through Friday in Brooklyn; tracking weekend thunderstorms

HEAT ALERT: Hazy heat sticks around through Friday in Brooklyn; tracking weekend thunderstorms

2:06
Pride Month: Local salon goes the extra mile to help all people feel welcome and look their best

Pride Month: Local salon goes the extra mile to help all people feel welcome and look their best

1:47
Volunteer group takes community safety in Brooklyn to a new level

Volunteer group takes community safety in Brooklyn to a new level

0:59
Mayor announces over $1 billion set aside to create new jobs for New Yorkers

Mayor announces over $1 billion set aside to create new jobs for New Yorkers

1:56
Midwood man bitten by snake he found in his bathroom

Midwood man bitten by snake he found in his bathroom

1:54
Feeling dehydrated? Water intake calculator can help you stay safe during hot weather

Feeling dehydrated? Water intake calculator can help you stay safe during hot weather

1:38
Health experts urge Brooklyn swimmers to stay safe before heading into the ocean to cool off

Health experts urge Brooklyn swimmers to stay safe before heading into the ocean to cool off

0:31
NYPD: 15-year-old shot and injured in East Flatbush; 4 suspects wanted

NYPD: 15-year-old shot and injured in East Flatbush; 4 suspects wanted

1:46
Coney Island beach left covered in trash overnight amid hot weather

Coney Island beach left covered in trash overnight amid hot weather

1:58
Shuffleboarding hot spot offers retro fun with a modern touch

Shuffleboarding hot spot offers retro fun with a modern touch

0:21
Suspects steal $8,000 from Sunset Park business, police say

Suspects steal $8,000 from Sunset Park business, police say

0:31
FDNY: Firefighter, another person injured in Ocean Hill fire

FDNY: Firefighter, another person injured in Ocean Hill fire

1:32
Heat Alert: How to help your dog battle the heat

Heat Alert: How to help your dog battle the heat

1:57
Likelihood of hot car deaths increases as New York City sees hottest week of the year so far

Likelihood of hot car deaths increases as New York City sees hottest week of the year so far

0:36
Bill proposed in City Council looks to extend NYC public pool season

Bill proposed in City Council looks to extend NYC public pool season

1:21
Water Lab opens for the season

Water Lab opens for the season

0:32
Gov. Hochul announces more than 100 illegal cannabis shops were shut down and padlocked

Gov. Hochul announces more than 100 illegal cannabis shops were shut down and padlocked

1:51
Brownsville native hosts football clinic for young athletes to commemorate Juneteenth

Brownsville native hosts football clinic for young athletes to commemorate Juneteenth

2:46
‘People have worked so hard.’ Woman who helped make Juneteenth a national holiday visits New Jersey

‘People have worked so hard.’ Woman who helped make Juneteenth a national holiday visits New Jersey

0:15
Bed-Stuy street co-named for legendary jazz drummer, Brooklyn native Max Roach

Bed-Stuy street co-named for legendary jazz drummer, Brooklyn native Max Roach