Search for bodies concludes in Surfside condo collapse

Firefighters on Friday declared the end of their search for bodies at the site of a collapsed Florida condo building, concluding a month of painstaking work removing layers of dangerous debris that were once piled several stories high.

The June 24 collapse at the oceanside Champlain Towers South killed 97 people, with at least one more missing person yet to be identified. Officials switched from a search-and-rescue mission to a recovery effort on 7 July. The site has been mostly swept flat and the rubble moved to a Miami warehouse. Although forensic scientists are still at work, including examining the debris at the warehouse, there are no more bodies to be found where the building once stood. Nobody has been pulled alive from the rubble since the first hours after the disaster. Search teams spent weeks battling the hazards of the rubble, including an unstable portion of the building that teetered above, a recurring fire and Florida’s stifling summer heat and thunderstorms. They went through more than 14,000 tons (13,000 metric tonnes) of broken concrete and rebar. Miami-Dade Fire Rescue’s urban search-and-rescue team has cleared most of the Surfside site, with the rubble moved to a state warehouse for further inspection.

After the search ended, officials thanked firefighters who worked 12-hour shifts while camping out at the site. The mission had to be been halted several times, due to instability in the mound of rubble as well as Tropical Storm Elsa. Officials had to order the part of the building that remained standing be demolished on 4 July.