SURFSIDE, Fla. – Despite the fact that no one has been retrieved alive from the wreckage of a collapsed Florida condo complex for the sixth day, rescue workers said Monday that they could yet discover survivors in the rubble, a hope that family members clung to.
Overnight, another body was discovered, increasing the total number of verified deaths to ten. However, more than 150 people remain unaccounted for in Surfside. Their families boarded buses to a neighboring location on Sunday to see the massive rescue operation, which included firefighters, sniffer dogs, and radar and sonar experts.
A crane lifted a massive slab of concrete from the debris pile early Monday, allowing approximately 30 hard hat rescuers to enter and load smaller bits of debris into red buckets, which were then emptied into a larger bin for a crane to remove. Intermittent rain showers have slowed the operation, but the fires that plagued the first search have been put out.
Rescuers have been able to identify some gaps inside the wreckage, particularly in the basement and parking garage, according to Andy Alvarez, a deputy incident commander with Miami-Dade Fire Rescue.
“At any given time, we have over 80 rescuers breaking the collapsed walls in a frenzied endeavor to save people who are still alive and get to those voids that we generally know exist in these buildings,” Alvarez added.
Alvarez continued, “We were able to tunnel through the building.” “This is a desperate quest for that ray of hope, that miracle, to see who we can save from this building.”
Others who had a close look at the debris were intimidated by the task ahead. Alfredo Lopez, who narrowly escaped the rubble with his wife in a sixth-floor corner flat, said he can’t believe anyone is still alive.
“If you saw what I saw, you would see nothing.” After that, you head over there and see all of the rubble. “How is it possible for someone to live through that?” The Associated Press reported Lopez’s comments.
Professionals have told him of incidents where people were located after 100 hours or more, according to Israeli Diaspora Affairs Minister Nachman Shai, who is leading a humanitarian team from Israel that includes many search-and-rescue experts.
“I would urge don’t lose hope,” he said.
Some relatives had believed that by going to the spot near the 12-story structure, they would be able to shout messages to loved ones who might be buried inside. As they boarded the bus to return to a nearby hotel, several of them paused to embrace as they exited. Others walked slowly back to the hotel entrance, arms around each other.
“All we have to do now is wait for responses. Dianne Ohayon, whose parents, Myriam and Arnie Notkin, were in the building, remarked, “That’s what we want.” “It’s been difficult to get through these lengthy days, and we still haven’t received any answers.”
The building collapsed only days before a deadline for condo owners to begin making large payments toward almost $9 million in repairs suggested nearly three years ago in a report that warned of “severe structural concerns.”
The extra four people found were identified as Leon Oliwkowicz, 80, and his wife, Christina Beatriz Elvira Oliwkowicz, 74; and Ana Ortiz, 46, and her son Luis Bermudez, 26 by authorities on Sunday. There were 152 persons who were still missing.
Conditions at the scene have hampered personnel hunting for survivors, according to Miami-Dade Assistant Fire Chief Raide Jadallah. The Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Department’s head, Alan Cominsky, said his team must move cautiously and systematically.
“The debris field is strewn throughout, and it’s dense, highly compact,” he said, emphasizing the need for teams to stabilize and shore up debris as they proceed.
He explained, “We can’t just walk in and change things around wildly because that will have the worst conceivable outcome.”
According to Adrian Garulay, CEO of Spec Ops Group, which sells the devices, one of the equipment used by rescuers was a microwave radar gadget designed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab and the Department of Homeland Security that “sees” through up to 8 inches (20 cm) of solid concrete. A seven-member search-and-rescue team from Mexico’s Jewish community deployed the suitcase-size equipment on Sunday, which can detect human breaths and heartbeats.
At any given time, six to eight teams are actively exploring the pile, with hundreds of team members ready to cycle in. Since Thursday, teams have been working around the clock, according to Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava.
Crews spent Saturday night digging a 125-foot-long, 20-foot-wide, and 40-foot-deep trench (38 meters long, 6 meters wide, and 12 meters deep), which allowed them to locate more bodies and human remains, she said.
Rushing into the rubble without proper preparation and execution, according to Earl Tilton, who heads a search-and-rescue consulting firm in North Carolina, might hurt or kill rescuers and the people they’re trying to save.
He warned that “moving the wrong piece of rubble at the wrong time” could result in it falling on workers and crushing them.
Tilton, on the other hand, felt that families were not wrong to hope. During previous urban rescues, he noted, rescuers have discovered people up to a week after the initial disaster.