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Florida building collapse toll rises to 90, 31 unaccounted for

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At least 90 people are now confirmed dead in the collapse of Champlain Towers South in Surfside, Florida./AFP
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Jul 12, 2021 - 02:11 AM

MIAMI — The death toll in last month’s collapse of a Florida apartment building has now risen to 90, officials said Sunday, with another 31 people still unaccounted for after the tragedy.

Champlain Towers South, a 12-story building built in 1981 in Surfside, a town north of Miami Beach, came tumbling down on June 24, as dozens of residents slept inside.

“The number of confirmed deaths is now 90. Seventy-one victims have been identified,” Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava told a daily briefing, adding that 217 people are accounted for and 31 people remain “potentially unaccounted for.”

More than 6,000 tons of concrete and other debris has been removed from the site, she said.

The recovery and removal operation was proceeding around the clock, and emergency personnel were at the point of accessing cars in the underground parking garage, said Miami-Dade fire chief Alan Cominsky.

Cominsky refused to be drawn on a possible end point for the recovery work.

“It’s still a methodical process… they’re hand-digging. It’s a slow process,” he said.

Israeli rescuers taking part in the operation in Surfside, which has a significant Jewish population, were expected to head home on Sunday, Levine Cava, saluting their efforts.

Multiple investigations were under way to determine the cause of the collapse. The remains of the building were brought down in a controlled explosion to allow for the recovery operation to continue.

A 2018 report released by city officials revealed fears of “major structural damage” in the complex, from the concrete slab under the pool deck to columns and beams in the parking garage.

Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said Sunday that early test results showed the building’s “concrete strength is very good, at or beyond the levels at which it should be.”

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