8 more bodies pulled from rubble of collapsed Florida condo building

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Workers walk past the collapsed Champlain Towers South condominium building, Tuesday, July 6, 2021, in Surfside, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

SURFSIDE, Fla. (AP) — The search for victims of the collapse of a Miami-area high-rise condominium reached its 14th day on Wednesday, with the death toll at three dozen, more than 100 people still unaccounted for and authorities sounding more and more grim.

Crews continued to dig through pulverized concrete where the Champlain Towers South building in Surfside once stood, filling buckets that were passed down a line to be emptied and returned.

First responders make their way toward the Champlain Towers South condo in Surfside, Fla. on Tuesday, July 6, 2021. Officials overseeing the search at the site of the Florida condominium collapse seem increasingly somber about the prospects for finding anyone alive. They said Tuesday that crews have detected no new signs of life in the rubble nearly two weeks after the disaster struck at the Champlain Towers South building in Surfside. (Matias J. Ocner/Miami Herald via AP)

Up-close video of the search released by the Miami-Dade County Fire Rescue Department, came as eight more deaths were announced — the most for a single day since the search began. Rain and wind from Tropical Storm Elsa disrupted search and rescue efforts, though the storm was on track to make landfall far across the state.

People look out from a balcony onto the collapsed and subsequently demolished Champlain Towers South condominium building, Tuesday, July 6, 2021, in Surfside, Fla. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Searchers have found no new signs of survivors, and although authorities said their mission was still geared toward finding people alive, they sounded increasingly somber.

“Right now, we’re in search and rescue mode,” the county’s police director, Freddy Ramirez, said at a news conference Tuesday evening. He soon added: “Our primary goal right now is to bring closure to the families.”

No one has been rescued from the site since the first hours after the building collapsed on June 24 when many of its residents were asleep.

A memorial for the Guara family is posted on a fence near the Champlain Towers South Tuesday, July 6, 2021 in Surfside, Fla. Officials overseeing the search at the site of the Florida condominium collapse seem increasingly somber about the prospects for finding anyone alive. They said Tuesday that crews have detected no new signs of life in the rubble nearly two weeks after the disaster struck at the Champlain Towers South building in Surfside. (Carl Juste/Miami Herald via AP)

Searchers were still looking for any open spaces within the mounds of rubble where additional survivors might be found, said the county’s fire chief, Alan Cominsky.

“Unfortunately, we are not seeing anything positive,” he said.

Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said the families of the missing were preparing for news of “tragic loss.” She said President Joe Biden, who visited the area last week, called Tuesday to offer his continued support.

“I think everybody will be ready when it’s time to move to the next phase,” she said.

Reporters got their closest in-person look at the site Tuesday, though it was limited to the portion of the building that workers tore down Sunday after the initial collapse left it standing but dangerously unstable. A pile of shattered concrete and twisted steel stood about 30 feet (9 meters) high and spanned roughly half the length of a football field. A pair of backhoes pulled rubble off the pile, which blocked any view of the search effort.

Rubble and debris of the Champlain Towers South condo can be seen in Surfside, Fla. on Tuesday, July 6, 2021. The rubble shown here is from the front portion of the condo towers, which was demolished 11 days after the back part of the tower collapsed with people inside. (Matias J. Ocner/Miami Herald via AP)

Severe weather from Elsa hindered search efforts to a degree. Lightning forced rescuers to pause their work for two hours early Tuesday, Assistant Fire Chief Raide Jadallah said. And winds of 20 mph (32 kph), with stronger gusts, hampered efforts to move heavy debris with cranes, officials said.

Crews have removed 124 tons (112 metric tonnes) of debris from the site, Cominsky said. The debris was being sorted and stored in a warehouse as potential evidence in the investigation into why the building collapsed, officials said.

Workers have been freed to search a broader area since the unstable remaining portion of the building was demolished.

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