MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The death toll from the Champlain Towers South collapse has increased to 22 on Friday.
On Friday afternoon, Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said two additional victims had been recovered. She also said 126 remain unaccounted for.READ MORE: Royal Caribbean Expands COVID Testing Requirements
Search and rescue crews at the site of the Surfside partially collapsed condo spent another 24 hours searching for signs of life.
Everyone keeping an eye on Hurricane Elsa and the impact it could have on the search efforts and the uncollapsed portion of the building.
The mayor signed an executive order to demolish the rest of the unstable structure.
“It will take at least a couple of weeks for engineers to determine the best way to bring down the building,” said Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava Friday.
“It’s important to note that we’re still evaluating all possible impacts and determining the best timeline to actually begin the demolition. Signing the order now is important so that it can help us move quickly,” she added. “The building poses a threat to public health and safety and bringing it down as quickly as possible is critical to protect our community.”
Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said he would like to see demolition happen sooner than later.
“We have a potential hurricane that could blow that building in the wrong direction. It could create a mess of immense proportions” said Burkett.
While work goes on at the site, behind the scenes the search for answers is intensifying.
“Every person in America has absorbed this and said it could have been me,” said South Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
She said the federal agency charged with finding the cause of the collapse will be able to give insight into what brought it down in the coming months.
The findings will most likely impact all construction in the future.
“This has to be a one-time event so we never have gaps in the safety measures we take,” she added.
Earlier in the day, the mayor said, “It goes without saying that every night, since this last Wednesday, has been immensely difficult for everybody and particularly the families impacted. But last night was uniquely different, it was more difficult for our first responders,” said Levine Cava. “These men and women are paying an enormous human toll each and every day. I ask that you keep all of them in your thoughts and prayers.”
Miami Fire Chief Joseph Zahralban issued the following statement:
“Our hearts and prayers are with the families affected by this horrific tragedy. We can confirm that a member of our City of Miami Fire Department family has lost his 7-year-old daughter in the collapse. She was recovered last night by members of our Urban Search and Rescue Team, Florida Task Force 2.”READ MORE: Florida Records Highest One-Day Total Of COVID Cases With 21,000
“I am the father of two children, I have a seven-year-old son, and the thought of losing him in this way is unimaginable. This tragedy has haunted so many of us because so many of us know someone who was in the building or affected by this tragedy. Now we know it was someone from our family, our fire family,” said Miami Mayor Francis Suarez.
Those who have been recovered from the rubble and identified 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; Andreas Giannitsopoulos, 21; Anna Ortiz, 46, her son Luis Bermudez, 26; Anaely Rodriguez, 42; Marcus Guara, their children 10-year old Lucia Guara and four-year-old Emma Guara, Magaly Delgado, 80, Bonnie Epstein, 56, Claudio Bonnefoy, 85, Maira Obias-Bonnefoy, 69, and a 7-year-old who the family did not want to identify.
After search operations at the site were halted for most of the day on Thursday due to safety concerns about the building that is still standing at the site, plans are being made to demolish it.
“We’re proceeding with our evaluation of all of the factors, all of the time, and the impacts related to the demolition of the building. While the search and rescue continues as our top priority, and it is important to stress, as our engineer explained yesterday evening, that a demolition cannot be done overnight. In fact, it takes weeks to demolish a building,” said Levine Cava.
On Friday, Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett acknowledged the incredible efforts of firefighters and singling out Miami Dade Fire Chief Ray Jadallah, who has been running rescue efforts as well as speaking daily with the families.
“He’s been working 20 hours a day and sleeping four hours a night since the beginning of this. He’s the guy I always see when I’m here and I’m here a lot,” said Burkett. “Ray has been a beacon, a rock, a source of hope for the families. He’s been there at the briefings every single day, answering tough questions.”
Governor Ron DeSantis said the state’s Division of Emergency Management continues to work on contingency plans for potential tropical weather impacts from Hurricane Elsa.
For those looking to help the families impacted by the collapse, Neighbors 4 Neighbors has established a fund.
For 9 days straight, search and rescue teams have been climbing on the rubble, sifting through concrete and metal.
Firefighters remain optimistic:
Drilling through the layers of cement, tirelessly, searching for signs of life.
“Don’t lose hope we will continue until we get to the bottom of that rubble,” said Juan Mestas, Operations Chief for Miami Beach Fire Department.
“There is a very good chance that we could injure anyone who is still underneath. So, the work is tedious and very time-consuming. That why you see the buckets out there just taking one rock at a time.”
Mestas has responded to disasters around the world, including the Twin Towers collapse on 9-11.
To contribute, call Neighbors 4 Neighbors at (305) 597-4404 or go to <a href=”http://For those looking to help, Neighbors 4 Neighbors has established a fund for those in need. To contribute, call Neighbors 4 Neighbors at (305) 597-4404 or go to neighbors4neighbors.org/surfsidefund” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener”>neighbors4neighbors.org/surfsidefund</a>.MORE NEWS: Activists Hold 'Down With The Chains' Rally At Bayfront Park Saturday
So far, they have raised more than $90,000.