- Title: Death toll climbs to five, 156 still missing at collapsed Florida building
- Date: 27th June 2021
- Summary: FLOWERS, CANDLES AND PHOTOGRAPHS ON FENCE SIDE VIEW OF FLOWERS AND PHOTOGRAPHS ON FENCE MIAMI-DADE COUNTY RESCUE WORKERS ARRIVING AT MEMORIAL AND PLACING A TOY/ RESCUE WORKER POINTS OUT PHOTOGRAPH OF VICTIM SIDE VIEW OF RESCUE WORKER LOOKING AT MISSING RESCUE WORKERS LOOKING AT PHOTOGRAPH OF MISSING AND TAKING PICTURE WITH CELL PHONE CAMERA
- Embargoed: 11th July 2021 01:01
- Keywords: Catholic church Surfside building collapse disaster memorial wall priest
- Location: MIAMI BEACH AND SURFSIDE, FLORIDA, UNITED STATES
- City: MIAMI BEACH AND SURFSIDE, FLORIDA, UNITED STATES
- Country: USA
- Topics: Disaster/Accidents,United States
- Reuters ID: LVA003EJ1FZ2F
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: As the death toll rose to five on Saturday (June 26) at the site of the Florida building collapse, community members rallied together as rescue workers methodically searched for more than 150 missing residents.
A steady stream of community members paid their respects at a makeshift memorial with flowers, photographs of the missing and loving notes.
Friends and family members hugged and prayed that the missing will be found alive.
Search-and-rescue teams found one victim at the site in Surfside, a shore town near Miami, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said during an evening news briefing.
"Our top priority continues to be search and rescue and saving any lives that we can," Levine Cava said.
The search effort has revealed some human remains while three other victims were identified and their family members notified, she said.
St. Joseph Catholic Church is within sight of the building and Rev. Juan Sosa said many worshipped there.
At least three families from the church were among those who were able to escape the building from the side that did not collapse, he said, but many more church members are missing.
"Nine of the families - possibly an average of 20, 25 people - we don't know about. We tried to call them obviously, and we haven't heard from them or their relatives," he said. "Our community is very much at a loss and, as St. Paul says in one of his letters, we rejoice with those who are honored but we also suffer and grieve with those that are grieving and require healing, and we're trying to do the best we can to provide that healing."
Among the missing are Juan Alberto Mora and Ana Mora, who the priest said attended church daily. Ana Mora is the secretary of Belen Jesuit Preparatory School. Their son, Juan Mora, Jr., who was visiting them, is also among the missing.
Sosa said Catholic Charities, and all the local religious communities have come together to support the relatives of the victims.
A newly released 2018 report showed that an engineer found evidence of major structural damage beneath the pool deck and "concrete deterioration" in the underground parking garage of the 12-story oceanfront condominium, three years before it collapsed without warning on Thursday as most residents slept.
Officials said they still harbored hope that some of the 156 people unaccounted for might be found alive. Firefighters made progress on smoldering fire and smoke beneath the rubble, allowing rescuers to search with fewer limitations, officials said.
Aided by dogs, infrared scanning and heavy equipment, rescuers hope that air pockets that may have formed in the debris might keep people alive.
"The biggest thing now is hope," Fire Chief Alan Cominsky said. "That's what's driving us. It's an extremely difficult situation."
The building had more than 130 units, about 80 of which were occupied, officials said. Roughly half appear to have collapsed.
(Production: Marco Bello, Arlene Eiras)
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