A massive 12-story condo tower collapsed outside Miami on June 24. Here is a running breakdown of events, stories and updates to the tragic event, which has killed dozens of people.
Final collapse victim found from rubble
Tuesday, July 27
The search and rescue team of the collapsed Surfside, Florida, condo found the final victim from the tower collapse, according to BBC News.
Estelle Hedaya, a 54-year-old woman, had been missing since the building collapsed on Jun 24.
- Her discovery brings the entire death toll of the collapse to 98 people, BBC News reports.
- “She always mentioned God anytime she was struggling with anything,” he said. “She had reached a different level spiritually, which allowed her to excel in all other areas.”
Search for Surfside survivors won’t stop until everyone is found, official says
Friday, July 16
- “On the original collapse site we are almost at the bottom,” Zabaleta told CNN. “Does that mean we are almost done with the search? No. Until we clear the entire site and find no more human remains we are not done.”
- “We are almost there,” Zabaleta added.
Since the building collapsed on June 24, search teams discovered 97 victims among the wreckage. They identified 92 of the bodies and notified 92 families, according to CNN.
This is a change from July 8 when officials said they were wrapping up the rescue efforts. Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said every option had been explored and the search would be called off, NPR reported.
- “Our top priority since Day 1 has been to do everything possible, everything humanly possible, and to explore every single portion of the collapsed grid in search of survivors,” Cava said, according to NPR. “At this point, we have truly exhausted every option available to us in the search and rescue mission.”
Surfside 911 calls were released, revealing horror and disbelief
Thursday, July 15
Per The Associated Press, the 911 recordings from the Surfside condo tower that collapsed have been released, showing “disbelief, panic and confusion as people tried to comprehend the disaster.”
- “We’ve gotta get out. Hurry up, hurry up. There’s a big explosion,” one caller said, according to The Associated Press. “There’s a lot of smoke. I can’t see anything. We gotta go. I can’t see nothing but smoke.”
In total, 97 people have died from the collapse. A handful of others remain missing from the collapse, according to CNN.
- “Officials in the area promised victims’ families to work diligently until all of their loved ones are recovered, a task that is becoming more time sensitive,” CNN reports.
Collapsed Surfside condominium complex deemed a ‘holy site’
Tuesday, July 13
Burkett said only authorized personnel will be allowed at the site as the death toll has neared 100 in recent days as officials work on the cleanup.
- “I first want to touch on something that’s become more and more apparent as the operation has gone on — and that is the significance of that site with respect to the people who have lost their lives there,” the mayor said, according to CNN. “It is the right thing to do because it is obvious that this has become more than a collapsed building site, it’s a holy site.”
Death toll rises as officials continue to work on Surfside collapse location
Monday, July 12
Over the weekend, officials continued to work on the debris of the collapsed Surfside condominium complex, according to CNN. The death toll rose to 90 total victims as more victims were discovered amid the debris.
- Overall, 217 people have been accounted for in the collapse with 31 still missing, CNN reports.
- “Video from the site of the collapsed Champlain Towers South taken Sunday night showed crews still digging through the debris, with spotlights illuminating their path,” CNN reports.
The updated death toll came after officials called off the search for more victims, NPR reports. It looks as though officials have stopped a specific search-and-rescue mission, but will continue to look for survivors as they clean through the debris.
Officials end the search for survivors due to ‘zero chance of survival’
Thursday, July 8
Officials have called off the search for survivors at the collapsed site of the Champlain Towers South condo building in Surfside, Florida, according to NPR.
- Almost 90 people remain unaccounted for.
- The death toll stands at 54 but will likely rise.
Officials called off the search due to a lack of finding survivors. There have been no living survivors pulled from the wreckage since June 24, according to NPR.
- “Our top priority since Day 1 has been to do everything possible, everything humanly possible, and to explore every single portion of the collapsed grid in search of survivors,” Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said Wednesday night, NPR reports. “At this point, we have truly exhausted every option available to us in the search and rescue mission.”
- “Just based on the facts, there’s zero chance of survival,” said assistant chief Ray Jadallah of Miami-Dade Fire Rescue, according to The New York Times.
Rescuers find 10 more victims, death toll at 46
Wednesday, July 7
Miami officials said 10 more bodies were discovered in the rubble of the June 24 Surfside condo collapse, bringing the death toll up to 46, the Miami Herald reported Wednesday.
- Twenty-two victims, nearly half of those found so far, have been discovered since Sunday night when the remainder of the 12-story building was demolished to provide rescuers with a safer area to search, according to the Miami Herald.
- The New York Times reported that 94 residents of the condo have still been unaccounted for and remain missing.
‘Tragic loss’ continues as death toll rises to 36
Wednesday, July 7
- More than 100 people remain unaccounted for from the collapse.
- Miami-Dade’s mayor, Daniella Levine Cava, said families are preparing for news of “tragic loss” as they await to hear about their family members, according to The Guardian.
- Cava said President Joe Biden called her on Tuesday to offer support.
Search and rescue teams will continue to move through the debris. But the forthcoming Tropical Storm Elsa and its massive winds have caused delays in the relief efforts, according to NBC News.
Miami building collapse continues after major demolition; death toll rises
Tuesday, July 6
The rescue efforts of the building collapse of a condominium complex north of Miami continued over the weekend after much of the building was demolished, The New York Times reports.
- Four more bodies were discovered, raising the death toll to 32, according to the Miami Herald.
Rescuers resumed their search after a slight pause once the building was fully demolished after a controlled demolition.
- There are still 117 people unaccounted for from the collapse, CNN reports,
Young daughter of Miami firefighter a victim of building collapse; death toll reaches 20
Friday, July 2
The body of a 7-year-old daughter of a Miami firefighter has been recovered by rescuers from the rubble of the Champlain Towers, the Miami Herald reported Friday. Around 200 workers at the collapse site saluted the girl’s body as it was carried away, according to the Herald.
- Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava asked that people keep the first responders in their thoughts and prayers, and said, “They truly represent the very best in all of us and we need to be there for them as they are here for us,” the Miami Herald reported.
“Every victim we remove, it’s difficult,” Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Chief Alan Cominsky said, The New York Times reported. “Last night was even more when we were removing a fellow firefighter’s daughter.”
- “As firefighters, we do what we do. It’s kind of a calling. And we always say that. But it still takes a toll,” the chief added.
The death toll of the condo collapse is now at 20, according to the Miami Herald, and 128 people remain missing.
With over three million pounds of concrete now removed from the collapse, our first responders continue their search and rescue mission — putting their own lives at risk in extremely difficult conditions.— Daniella Levine Cava (@MayorDaniella) July 2, 2021
To each and every one of them: thank you. pic.twitter.com/t7uNvH3F8j
Death toll rises in condo collapse
Wednesday, June 30
The death toll from the Florida condo building collapse rose to 16 on Wednesday, The Washington Post reports.
- First responders continue to search through the rubble for survivors of the building collapse.
- More than 140 people remain missing, according to The Washington Post.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said responders will continue to search for those who were caught in the tragic incident.
“Rest assured those folks are going to be working on that pile and it’s not going to stop and they’re going to get answers one way or another,” he said, per The Washington Post.
Photos emerge of building damage before the collapse
Wednesday, June 30
A commercial pool contractor recently told The Miami Herald that he noticed major damage to the Champlain Towers South condo outside of Miami, which recently collapsed due to structural damage. He snapped some photos of the damage, too.
The contractor saw “exposed and corroding rebar in the concrete slab” of the building’s pool equipment room, The Miami Herald reports. He was worried that they’d have to contact experts to fix the slabs, and even remove some pool pipes.
“I wonder if this was going on in other parts of the building and caused this collapse,” he said, according to The Miami Herald.
Miami condo residents were warned of repairs before building collapse
Tuesday, June 29
The president of the Champlain South Towers condo association told residents that they needed to pay a total of $15 million to help with repairs to the building, The Wall Street Journal reports.
The condo board president, Jean Wodnicki told residents that the concrete damage to the building would “multiply exponentially over the years, and indeed the observable damage such as in the garage has gotten significantly worse over the years.”
The Wall Street Journal report comes just days after the building collapse. There had been previous reporting that the building had some structural damage that needed repairs.
An update to the numbers
Monday, June 28
Authorities identified eight of the 11 victims, according to NPR. Their names are:
- Leon Oliwkowiicz, 80
- Luis Bermudez, 26
- Anna Ortiz, 46
- Christina Beatriz Elvira, 74
- Stacie Fang, 54
- Gladys Lozano, 79
- Antonio Lozano, 83
- Manuel “Manny” LaFont, 54.
Miami condo tower had structural damage
Monday, June 28
The New York Times reports that a consultant company told the Champlain Towers South condominium complex, which collapsed late last week, that it had some “major structural damage” to the concrete under the pool deck.
- There was also some “cracking and crumbling of the columns, beams and walls of the parking garage under the 13-story building,” according to The New York Times.
The consultant firm’s plans actually led to the tower starting a repair project that was set to start soon. Unfortunately, the building collapsed before the new project could get started.
- “At the time the building collapsed, work had been done on the roof only and not on concrete restoration,” according to NPR.
159 people are still missing after a major high-rise condo collapsed near Miami
Friday, June 25
Rescue crews continue to work night and day to recover people from the 12-story condo tower that collapsed in Miami, and there were recently some tragic updates.
- Moreover, Cava said 120 people are still missing from the debris. That increased the total of missing people to 159.
- “I want to be very clear about the numbers. They are very fluid,” Cava said, according to Axios.
What happened to the Miami apartment building?
Friday, June 25
On Thursday, a residential high-rise complex in the South Florida community called Surfside collapsed at 2 a.m. EDT. The 12-story building fell and created piles of rubble beneath it, as I wrote for the Deseret News.
- “This is a horrific catastrophe. In the United States, buildings just don’t fall down,” Surfside Mayor Charles W. Burkett said, according to CNN.
Is President Joe Biden doing anything?
Friday, June 25
President Biden approved an emergency declaration in Florida on the night of Thursdaym June 24. The federal aid will help the state and local response efforts to the massive building collapse.
“The President’s action authorizes the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to coordinate all disaster relief efforts,” the White House said in a statement.