Condo Collapse: Search for Surfside Rubble Won’t Stop Until Every Person Is Found, Official Says

“At the original collapse site, we’re almost at the bottom,” Miami-Dade Police spokesman Alvaro Zabaleta told CNN. “Does that mean we’re almost done with the search? No. Until we clear the whole site and find more human remains, we’re not done.”

“We’re almost there,” Zabaleta added.

Since part of the building collapsed in the middle of the night of June 24, teams have recovered 97 bodies from the rubble, identifying 92 victims and notifying 92 families, according to a press release Thursday from the Miami mayor’s office. -Dade.

Going forward, the county said it would only report the number of identified casualties, “out of respect for the families still waiting and to make sure we report the most accurate numbers possible.”

With more than 22 million pounds of concrete and debris removed from the site, according to Miami-Dade County, the scene differs greatly from the 16 feet of rubble that crews faced immediately after.

But the pain felt by the community and the families of the victims remains unchanged.

Flowers, letters and photos are always added to the Hope Wall, a memorial to those who were inside on the doors of the building’s tennis court.

“It’s almost like a grieving process or a shiva process that goes on and on, yet you haven’t had the funeral,” Soriya Cohen told CNN affiliate. WLPG, while she waited for rescuers to find her husband. “I’m not even 100% sure he’s going to be found because they looked around his apartment and they only found his brother.”

The site becomes a place of gathering and mourning

The tragedy affected victims in several Latin American countries, including Colombia, Venezuela, Uruguay and Paraguay.

Rabbi: What we're trying to do for the grieving people in Surfside

Surfside – a small, eclectic town of about 6,000 residents – is also home to a large population of Orthodox Jews. After the collapse when families got together, it was common to hear a mixture of conversations in Hebrew, Spanish, English and Portuguese.

The diverse community came together, trying to seize the strength in the faith. Synagogues and churches opened their arms for emergency prayer services after the collapse. Vigils were held for the missing, and many prayed, sobbed and hugged the ruins of the tower visible in the background.

“It is evident that it has become more than a collapsed construction site. It is a sacred site,” Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said earlier this week.

An excavator clears rubble at the site of the Champlain Towers South condo building collapse and demolition on Thursday.

Frantic 911 calls from the first moments of the collapse

Meanwhile, more details have emerged about the immediate moments of the collapse.

Calls to 911 in the first few moments reveal chaos and confusion among residents and bystanders as the building collapses.

“It looks like something underground, everything exploded,” a caller told dispatchers, adding that it looked like an earthquake.

Another caller, who told dispatchers they were in a parking lot, called for help.

“I know the police are already there. Can someone help me out, please? pleaded the appellant. “I was able to escape, but I’m out in the parking lot. If the building collapses, it will fall on my head.”

Surfside condo collapse 911 calls reveal confusion and chaos as building collapses

A caller told dispatchers that a sister lived in the building, but was confused as to what had happened and how people would be rescued.

“I don’t know if anything happened to him, but half the building is no longer there,” the appellant said. “There are two people, they are, they are alive but that, they cannot go out because there is no building on the other side of their apartment.”

CNN obtained and transcribed these frantic phone calls about three weeks after the Champlain Towers South collapse.

CNN’s Rosa Flores, Aya Elamroussi, Tina Burnside, Kelsie Smith, Rebekah Riess, and Faith Karimi contributed to this report.

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