MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The number of confirmed deaths has risen to 18 on the seventh day of the search and rescue operation at the Champlain Towers South collapse site.
On Wednesday afternoon, Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said that two additional bodies had been pulled from the rubble. This time, she said, they were the bodies of two children.READ MORE: Miami-Dade School Superintendent Alberto Carvalho On Mask Use For Upcoming School Year: 'Decision Cannot Be Rushed'
The children were identified as 10-year-old Lucia Guara and 4-year-old Emma Guara. The body of their mother, 42-year-old Anaely Rodriguez, was recovered earlier in the day. Marcus Guara, the girls’ father and Rodriguez’s husband, was confirmed dead after his remains were pulled from the rubble on Saturday.
MDPD said the body of 21-year-old Andreas Giannitsopoulos was also recovered Wednesday.
The others who have been recovered and identified from the site are Stacie Dawn Fang, 54; Antonio Lozano, 83 and Gladys Lozano, 79; Manuel LaFont, 54; Leon Oliwkowicz, 80; Christina Beatriz Elvira, 74; Frank Kleiman, 55; Michael David Altman, 50; Hilda Noriega, 92; Anna Ortiz, 46, and her son Luis Bermudez, 26.
The number of those unaccounted for is now 145, while the number of people accounted for is 139. The mayor said they were conducting an audit of the list of those accounted and unaccounted for.
“Our detectives have been working around the clock to reach every single person who we have been told may be missing by a loved one. We need to verify every report and remove duplicates wherever possible. Please, this takes some time,” said Levine Cava.
The mayor stressed the numbers are fluid and will continue to change.
“Those folks will work the pile and are not going to stop until they get answers, one way or another,” said Governor Ron DeSantis.
Search crews have worked tirelessly at the site since the collapse. The clearing of the debris must be done delicately to prevent falling pieces of rubble from causing a shift and potentially injuring search teams or possible survivors.
Members of the Israeli defense forces have been helping with the search.
Elad Edris says pieces of the structure that is still standing continue to fall off the building creating a hazard for workers below.
He says he meets with the families of the missing twice a day. “It’s not impossible,” he says.
They may still find people alive.
“In our experience around the world, we have found people after ten to 12 days,“ he said.
One woman is holding on to hope, as her friend is among those still unaccounted for.
“Even though she’s 104 pounds and she’s petite, she’s one of the strongest people I know,” said Cindy Hinton.READ MORE: Cleveland Clinic Weston Once Again #1 Hospital In Miami-Fort Lauderdale Metro Area
She’s been friends with Linda March for nearly 40 years.
The 58-year-old lawyer started renting a penthouse here just three months ago.
“Linda saw the pictures, she absolutely fell in love with it. It was the penthouse level. It had balconies, it had a view of the water, and it was a building that had everything she wanted,” Hinton said.
With the building ripped wide open, bunk beds in March’s apartment still remain on the edge of the top floor.
Many wondered if children lived there. But Hinton said she rented it furnished, and lived there alone.
As for the team from Israel, some of them are helping to map the building pre-collapse. They are gathering information from families who are providing unique information on the missing, so teams have an easier time with identification.
“This whole scene that we are working on, I can’t emphasize enough the dangers we are in countering,” said Miami-Dade Fire Chief Alan Cominsky. “So I’ve definitely been monitoring. We will continue to monitor. Our teams have structural engineers.”
Cominsky said crews had removed approximately three million pounds of concrete.
“This is the third largest building failure in the history of the United States – only third to Oklahoma and New York City – so we are doing everything that we can,” said Jimmy Patronis, Florida’s chief financial officer.
He was referring to the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995 and the Twin Towers in 2001.
A grand jury investigation is being launched.
In a statement from Miami-Dade State Attorney Kathy Fernandez Rundle, she said, in part:
“My office has a long tradition of presenting more than just criminal cases to the Grand Jury. Our Grand Juries have also served as a cross-section of the community to evaluate matters of health and public safety. For example, in the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew, the Grand Jury issued a report that helped lead to better building codes. The Grand Jury has also made recommendations regarding the environmental integrity of Biscayne Bay, the financial survival of Jackson Memorial Public Hospital, and the safety of our public housing communities. To that end, I plan to request that our Grand Jury look at what steps we can take to safeguard our residents without jeopardizing any scientific, public safety, or potential criminal investigations.”
For those looking to help the families impacted by the collapse, Neighbors 4 Neighbors has established a fund.
To contribute, call Neighbors 4 Neighbors at (305) 597-4404 or go to neighbors4neighbors.org/surfsidefund.MORE NEWS: Calls Continue For Cuban Embassy In DC To Be Shut Down
So far, they have raised $47,000.