Death toll in Florida condo collapse rises to 64
76 still missing as officials declare there's no longer hope of finding anyone alive
Crews searching the collapsed condominium tower near Miami recovered an additional 10 bodies, bringing the death toll to 64, officials said on Thursday, one day after declaring there was no longer hope of finding anyone alive.
Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava told a news conference that 76 people were still considered missing in the disaster, believed to have been inside the Champlain Towers South condo when it abruptly crumbled in the early hours of June 24.
As of midnight local time, the emergency effort officially transitioned from an attempt to find survivors to a recovery operation, vanquishing any hope of extracting anyone alive from the rubble.
The painstaking search for survivors shifted to a recovery effort at midnight Wednesday after authorities said they had come to the agonizing conclusion that there was "no chance of life" in the rubble of the condo building in Surfside.
"Yesterday was tough," Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said at the news conference. "But the work is going to go on and they are going to identify every single person."
WATCH | Work at Florida condo collapse moves to recovery phase:
Michael Stratton, whose wife, Cassie, has not officially been confirmed dead, said friends and family had accepted "the loss of a bright and kind soul with an adventurous spirit." He was talking on the phone with his wife right when the building collapsed, and she described shaking before the phone went dead, he has told Denver's KDVR-TV.
"This wasn't the miracle we prayed for, but it was not for lack of trying by rescue crews whose tireless bravery will never be forgotten," he said in a statement Thursday.
Crews have "used every possible strategy, and every possible technology available to them" to find people in the rubble, Levine Cara said.
"They've removed over seven million pounds of concrete and debris from the mound. They've used sonar, cameras, dogs, heavy machinery. They've searched for void spaces and they've searched for victims," she said.
Hours before the formal transition from rescue to recovery mission, emergency workers joined local officials, rabbis and chaplains in a moment of silence.
Officials vowed to continue the recovery efforts until they find the remains of every person missing.
Detectives are working to verify that each of those listed as missing was actually in the building when it collapsed.
Miami-Dade Assistant Fire Chief Raide Jadallah told families during a private briefing that crews would stop using rescue dogs and listening devices.
"Our sole responsibility at this point is to bring closure," he said, as relatives cried in the background.
With files from The Associated Press