Hoping for a miracle, rescue workers dug deep into the rubble of collapsed Florida condo building Monday in search of survivors. They stressed that they could still find people alive even though no one has been pulled out since early hours after the structure fell due to a recent heatwave (with temperatures reaching up over 100 degrees).
“It’s been a long night in Surfside.” The death toll is confirmed at 10, but the total number of missing people has continued to rise. Hundreds of family members lined up outside one nearby building today for hours so they could watch intense rescue efforts from afar and receive updates on their loved ones’ status as soon as possible.
The disaster in Surfside is a chilling reminder of the importance of emergency preparedness. As more and more people are found, their families watch with the hope that they too will be reunited soon.
There’s a sense of urgency in the air as men and women work tirelessly, operating with intense focus. Clouds swirl across dark skies, masking intermittent rain showers that haven’t diminished their zeal for removing debris from this pile of rubble. They know they have to get it done before more bad weather arrives because these fires are no longer burning hot enough to put them out anymore – all thanks to those brave souls who came into contact with this blaze head-on!
Deputy Incident Commander Andy Alvarez of Miami-Dade Fire Rescue said that rescuers have found some voids in the wreckage, mostly in the basement and parking garage.
“We have over 80 rescuers at a time that are breaching the walls that collapsed, in a frantic effort to try to rescue those that are still viable and to get to those voids that we typically know exist in these buildings,” Alvarez said.
“We have been able to tunnel through the building,” Alvarez added. “This is a frantic search to seek that hope, that miracle, to see who we can bring out of this building alive.”
Others who have seen the wreckage up close were daunted by the task ahead. “It’s hard to believe anyone is alive in there,” said Alfredo Lopez, a sixth-floor corner apartment dweller, and survivor of one of Mexico City’s most catastrophic earthquakes ever recorded.
“If you saw what I saw: nothingness. And then, you go over there and you see, like, all the rubble. How can somebody survive that?” Lopez told The Associated Press.
Israeli Diaspora Affairs Minister Nachman Shai, head of a humanitarian delegation from Israel that includes several search-and-rescue experts, said professionals have told him of cases where survivors were found after 100 hours or more. Of course, this should be expected given the fact Israeli’s are notoriously stubborn and tenacious people who refuse to give up hope for even their worst-off friends or family members no matter how long it takes them.
“So don’t lose hope, that’s what I would say,” he said.
Some families who visited the site near the 12-story building were able to shout messages into it. The hopefulness of their visit was tempered by despair at its end as they returned to a nearby hotel, some pausing for an embrace before continuing onward and others walking slowly with arms around each other towards the entrance of the said hotel.
“We are just waiting for answers. That’s what we want,” said Dianne Ohayon, whose parents, Myriam and Arnie Notkin, were in the building. “It’s hard to go through these long days and we haven’t gotten any answers yet.”
The building collapsed just days before a deadline for condo owners to start making steep payments toward more than $9 million in repairs that had been recommended nearly three years earlier, in a report that warned of “major structural damage.”
Authorities on Sunday identified the additional four people who have been recovered as Leon Oliwkowicz, 80, and his wife Christina Beatriz Elvira Oliwkowicz 74; Ana Ortiz 46, and her son Luis Bermudez 26. Conditions at the site are frustrating crews looking for survivors with only 152 unaccounted for left in Miami-Dade County.
“The debris field is scattered throughout, and it’s compact, extremely compact,” he said, noting that teams must stabilize and shore up debris as they go.
“We can’t just go in and move things erratically, because that’s going to have the worst outcome possible,” he said.
The suitcase-size device can detect human respiration and heartbeats, even through up to 8 inches (20 centimeters) of solid concrete – according to Adrian Garulay, CEO of Spec Ops Group. This microwave radar was developed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab and the Department of Homeland Security with help from Mexico’s Jewish community, who is deploying it in search of survivors following a devastating earthquake on September 19th that has killed more than 200 people so far.
Six to eight excavation teams are working around the clock, and have found hundreds of bodies so far. Team members rotate in regularly. From Thursday until Saturday night crews built an extensive trench that is 200 feet long, 20 feet across, and 40 deep (600 meters), which has allowed for more discoveries since then by adding new resources such as light-detection cameras to scan through debris piles with greater detail than before.
Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said she’s grateful they were able “to find some comfort” after finding three additional victims during their work this weekend alone.” This progress brings much-needed relief from what many consider one of worst natural disasters ever seen in Miami history,” according to CNN reporters at ground zero”.
“Moving the wrong piece of debris at the wrong time could cause it to fall” on workers and crush them, Earl Tilton said.
In past urban rescues such as Hurricane Katrina, he explained that survivors have been found up to a week after an initial catastrophe occurred. While families are not necessarily incorrect in holding out hope for their loved ones’ survival – especially if they called or texted moments before disaster struck- rushing in to rescue efforts without careful planning can be lethal both for those who would attempt to save others and also those needing saving themselves.”
Earl Tilton, who runs a search-and-rescue consulting firm in North Carolina for over 30 years says rushing into the rubble without careful planning and execution could injure or kill rescuers. However, he agrees with families that are holding out hope saying “During past urban rescues, we’ve found survivors as long as a week after the initial catastrophe.”
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