By Brooke Shafer

SURFSIDE (CBSMiami) – Officials at the site of the Champlain Towers South collapse in Surfside announced Friday afternoon they had recovered an additional victim, bringing the total of deaths to 79, 61 remain unaccounted for.

Earlier in the day, Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava announced that 14 additional victims had been recovered.

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“This is a staggering and heartbreaking number that affects all of us very deeply,” she said of the new death toll.

The mayor said 53 victims have been identified.

WATCH: Brooke Shafer’s Report On Activity At The Collapse Site

 

The road to the collapse site is a near-constant caravan of police cars, search teams and dump trucks which are loaded with concrete debris from the collapse.

Levine Cava said 13 million pounds of concrete and debris has been hauled away so far.

State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis told CBS4 News the men and women on site are using their cell phones to tag items they find.

“Photos are made, it’s snapped, it’s geotagged where it was found and then it’s catalogued,” he explained.

“They are using GPS technology to place the items found near family’s units so we have a better idea to whom those items may belong. Those items are being guarded 24 hours a day. Everything you can imagine has been recovered and is being processed. This process will continue until every bit of debris is gone through,” said Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett.

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Every victim recovered is also being handled with extreme care and compassion. There are rabbis and other faith leaders embedded in the operation so specific prayers and protocols can be followed to honor both the faith traditions and the integrity of the investigation.

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It will be a long and difficult process.

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“I see a lot of emotion, I see a lot of people working hard, I see the same intensity now as I did 15 days ago,” said Patronis.

During Friday’s news conference, Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Chief Alan Cominsky revealed two first responders were hospitalized.

“Over the past 24 hours, we did have two individuals that were injured. One was cardiac in nature and was transported to the hospital and is in stable condition and the other one was one of the Task Force members which received a laceration that required some sutures but is doing alright as well,” said Chief Cominsky.

Rescue workers now focused on finding remains instead of survivors are vowing to keep up their search for victims until they have cleared all the rubble.

Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett on Thursday quoted a fire official as saying crews will not stop until they’ve gotten to the bottom of the pile and recovered every victim.

On Friday, Miami-Dade police released the names of eight more victims who have been identified: Maria Teresa Rovirosa, 58, Luis Lopez Moreira III, 3, Sophia López Moreira, 36, Luis Pettengill, 36, Vishai Patel, 42, Bhavna Patel, 36, Deborah Berezdivin, 21, and Juan Alberto Mora, 80.

Sophia López Moreira is the sister of Paraguay’s first lady Silvana Abdo. Her husband, Luis Pettengill and their youngest of three children, Luis Moreira, were also identified. Two other children and their nanny remain missing.

Also identified: Benny Weisz, 31, Angela Velasquez, 60, Ilan Naibryf, 21 and
Leidy Vanessa Luna Villalba, 23.

The painstaking search for survivors shifted to a recovery effort at midnight Wednesday after authorities said they had come to the agonizing conclusion that there was “no chance of life” in the rubble.

“When that happened, it took a little piece of the hearts of this community,” said U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, whose congressional district includes Surfside.

Wasserman Schultz and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis pledged financial assistance to families of the victims, as well as to residents of the building who survived but lost all their possessions.

In addition to property tax relief for residents of the building, DeSantis said, the state government will work toward channeling an outpouring of charitable donations to families affected by the collapse.

So far, $1.7 million dollars have been donated to Surfside’s disaster fund.

Neighbors 4 Neighbors has established a fund to assist families impacted by the collapse as well as help feed first responders. To contribute, call Neighbors 4 Neighbors at (305) 597-4404 or go to neighbors4neighbors.org/surfsidefund.

Meanwhile, authorities are launching a grand jury investigation into the collapse. And at least six lawsuits have been filed by families.

 

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