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Four more bodies have been pulled from the rubble of the partly collapsed condo tower in Surfside, Florida, raising the confirmed death toll from the disaster to 16, officials said on Wednesday.
Search-and-rescue crews working on the huge pile of pulverized concrete and steel at the site of the crumbled Champlain Towers South building recovered the additional bodies overnight, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said at a press conference.
“The weather has continued, unfortunately inclement, causing definitely some challenges. But they have continued, they have persisted,” Cava said of the rescue teams. “The operation is moving forward.”
There are 147 people unaccounted for, Cava said, adding that 139 people had been accounted for in the collapse.
A massive wing of the 12-story oceanfront condo building suddenly came crashing down at about 1:30 a.m. on Thursday. Rescue crews have since been working around the clock through the mound of debris to find survivors.
“Very, very difficult situation, but we’re working collaboratively in a group of trying to attain that goal, and that’s to save someone’s life,” Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Chief Alan Cominsky said on Wednesday.
Cominsky added, “We’re exhausting every avenue here, but it’s a very dangerous situation, and I can’t understate that.”
The fire chief explained that if crews discover a “void space” in the rubble, they “try to tunnel certain areas through there.”
Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett on Wednesday acknowledged the importance of the rescue dogs assisting with the search.
“We have two sets of dogs: dogs looking for people who are alive, and dogs looking for people who have passed on. And they rotate those dogs in and out,” Burkett said. “They pick up scents from great distances.”
Florida officials have announced multiple investigations into the collapse.