People visit the memorial which contains pictures of some of the victims from the partially collapsed 12-story Champlain Towers South Condo building on July 15, 2021 in Surfside, Florida. 92 victims have been identified while the search and recovery work is nearing completion.
Joe Raedle | Getty Images
The last person missing in the collapse of a residential complex in Surfside, Florida has been recovered and identified, bringing the death toll to 98, according to Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava.
The remains of Estelle Hedeya, 54, were finally identified by authorities, the victim’s younger brother told the Associated Press. A total of 242 people are now recorded, said Levine Cava.
“Although we have identified all of the missing reported victims, the Miami-Dade police are continuing their ongoing search and recovery efforts on the evidence pile to ensure that all identifiable human remains are recovered,” Levine Cava said during a press conference Monday.
Miami-Dade Police Department director Alfredo Ramirez found that human remains had been recovered from the “secondary site” of the collapse, where the remaining portion of the condo building stood before it was demolished three weeks ago.
“We are recovering human remains and will continue to process them […]”said Ramirez.” We are still working on the stacks of evidence and will continue until we think we have done all we can.
The fire department ended their search for bodies on Friday when the heap of debris was almost completely swept away from the collapse site. Miami-Dade Police Department officials were forced to stop efforts to recover the remains and personal effects.
“Nothing we can say or do will bring back those 98 angels who left grieving families, loved ones and loved ones in this community and around the world,” said Levine Cava. “But we did everything we could to bring the families out of school. I am particularly proud that, thanks to this tireless effort, we were finally able to close down all the people who reported missing relatives.”
The news comes more than a month after the sudden collapse of the 12-story Champlain Towers South. First responders pursued an emotional and tireless search that shifted from rescue to recovery after officials said the possibility of finding someone alive was “near zero”.
Search teams had spent weeks tackling the dangers of the rubble, including severe weather conditions that temporarily halted their work. Ultimately, they cleared more than 14,000 tons of concrete and rubble from the construction site.
As their search neared the end, authorities focused on helping victims and families affected by the collapse. This includes the provision of resources by a family counseling center, which offers psychological counseling as well as financial and housing assistance, among other things.
Last week, a judge ruled that victims and families affected by the collapse should initially receive at least $ 150 million in compensation.
The compensation includes insurance for the Champlain Towers South building and the expected proceeds from the sale of the land on which the condominium building once stood.
While the exact cause of the collapse is still unknown, a 2018 report shows the 40-year-old building suffered significant structural damage, with cracks in the underground parking garage and waterproofing problems under the pool.
Recent reports also show that the repeal of a law in Florida in 2010 that required condos to schedule repairs may also have contributed to the collapse.