4th Canadian victim of Florida condo collapse identified
Anastasia Gromova, 24, identified as being among victims of collapse at Champlain Towers South
A fourth Canadian victim has been identified nearly four weeks after the collapse of a 12-storey condo tower in Surfside, Fla., that killed more than 90 people.
Miami-Dade police told CBC News Wednesday that 24-year-old Anastasia Gromova had been identified as one of the victims.
Gromova was travelling with her friend Michelle Pazos, another Canadian who was also identified among the victims in the June 24 collapse of the Champlain Towers South.
Gromova's grieving family rushed from Canada after the collapse and had spent weeks in agony waiting in Miami.
"It just makes it real and hard but on a different level. At least we can move on now," her sister Anna Gromova told The Associated Press, describing her sister as a bright star that fell fast. "We will remember her forever."
Her parents said she was bright, always on the go, constantly smiling and unafraid to take on difficult challenges.
"It's hard because you knew the loss was preventable and still nothing was prevented," her sister said.
Judge outlines likely compensation
Meanwhile, victims and families who suffered losses in the collapse will get a minimum of $150 million US in compensation initially, a judge said Wednesday.
That sum includes about $50 million US in insurance on the Champlain Towers South building and at least $100 million US in proceeds from the sale of the Surfside property where the structure once stood, Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Michael Hanzman said at a hearing.
"The court's concern has always been the victims here," the judge said.
The group includes visitors and renters, not just condo owners, he said.
"Their rights will be protected."
The $150 million US does not count any proceeds from the numerous lawsuits already filed since the June 24 collapse, which killed at least 97 people. Those lawsuits are being consolidated into a single class action that would cover all victims and family members if they choose, according to the judge.
"I have no doubt no stone will be left unturned," Hanzman said of the lawsuits.
Long recovery effort
So, far 97 victims have been identified, many of them using DNA analysis.
Miami Dade officials had said Wednesday evening they believed they have two more victims yet to identify, but another person's name was released later in the day — meaning there may be just one more.
Officials have not yet announced an end to the recovery effort.
Meanwhile, the site of the tragedy has mostly been cleared away with the debris relocated to an evidentiary collection site near the airport where a thorough search will continue "with enormous care and diligence," said Mayor Daniella Levine Cava.
She spoke about the difficulties of the search in a statement Wednesday.
"The enormous pressure of the weight of the collapse and the passage of time also make it more challenging," she said, stressing that workers were still carefully combing through the rubble for the remaining victims as well as personal property and religious artifacts.
The rubble that will be key evidence is being stored in a Miami-area warehouse, with the rest in nearby vacant lots, said attorney Michael Goldberg. All of that will be preserved as possible evidence for the lawsuits and for other experts to review, he said.
The U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology is leading a federal probe into the collapse.
"It may take years for their report to become public," Goldberg said of the NIST probe.
The building was just undergoing its 40-year recertification process when it collapsed. That came three years after an engineer warned of serious structural issues needing immediate attention. Most of the concrete repair and other work had yet to be started.
With files from the CBC's Shuyee Lee