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Night of tears as death toll rises in tower collapse

Jun 29, 2021


A vigil was held Monday to honor the dead and missing in last week’s tower collapse in Surfside, Florida, as the death toll continues to rise.

President Joe Biden announced Tuesday he will travel to Surfside Thursday.

As of Tuesday morning, 11 people were confirmed dead, and 150 still unaccounted for.

Search and rescue missions continued into a sixth day Tuesday. Morning thunderstorms did not help crews’ efforts. Debris fell from the part of the tower that is still standing onto the search area.

Rescuers are using bucket brigades and heavy machinery as they work on top of a mound of concrete, steel and the remnants of dozens of households.

The efforts include firefighters, sniffer dogs and search experts using radar and sonar devices.

As rescue crews continue their search, families are constantly waiting on status updates.

“We have people waiting and waiting and waiting for news,” Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said. “We have them coping with the news that they might not have their loved ones come out alive and still hope against hope that they will. They’re learning that some of their loved ones will come out as body parts. This is the kind of information that is just excruciating for everyone.”

However, some are staying optimistic. “There’s, there’s hope. I really believe miracles do happen. Things like this have happened around the world,” Martin Langesfeld said. His sister and brother-in-law are missing. “I know she’s fighting,” he said.

Authorities said it’s still a search-and-rescue operation, despite the fact no one has been found alive since hours after the collapse last Thursday.

Deciding to transition from search-and-rescue work to a recovery operation is a difficult one. Dr. Joseph A. Barbera, a professor at George Washington University, coauthored a study examining disasters where some people survived under rubble for prolonged periods of time. He has advised teams on where to look for potential survivors, and when to conclude “that the probability of continued survival is very, very small.”

Martin Langesfeld: “There’s, there’s hope. I really believe miracles do happen. Things like this have happened around the world.”