July 5 (UPI) — The death toll from last month’s collapse of a condominium building near Miami rose to 27 with the discovery of three more bodies on Monday, local officials announced.
Following Sunday’s controlled demolition of the still-standing portion of the Champlain Towers South building in Surfside, Fla., firefighters were able to enter a previously inaccessible area of the rubble and found additional victims, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said.
With the latest discoveries, 118 building residents still remain unaccounted for, she told reporters in a morning update.
“Please joining me in praying for those who lost their lives,” she said at the county’s emergency operations center.
The remaining portion of the condominium building was imploded just before 10:30 p.m. Sunday ahead of Tropical Storm Elisa, which is quickly approaching the state and expected to impact the rescue efforts as soon as Tuesday.
The 13-story structure toppled to the ground in around 5 seconds. Crews then were to clear the debris in efforts to reach parts of the underground garage to look for survivors.
The bodies of 27 people, including three children, have now been recovered from the building. More than half the 13-story building, which had 130 units, collapsed on June 24.
The demolition of the remaining building was executed “exactly as planned,” Levine Cava said.
The site was toured Monday by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who said the demolition has allowed rescuers to search through rubble containing what were once bedrooms.
“Likely a lot of people who were sleeping at that time, unfortunately,” he told the Miami Herald.
Rescuers were preparing for the arrival of Tropical Storm Elsa, which made landfall over Cuba Monday afternoon and is headed for Florida.
The storm is expected to make landfall north of Tampa, Fla., Tuesday night or Wednesday morning, forecasters said.