Search and rescue teams were able to locate survivors of the beachside condo complex collapse near Miami throughout the night. They encountered rainstorms and small fires in rubble as they tried to find them.
Crews of 130 firefighters are working together to search the pile from both above and below for signs of life.
Crews removed three bodies from the pile overnight, making it four deaths, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava stated. She said that 159 people were still missing after the tower fell on Thursday morning. Friday’s focus was on finding survivors in the rubble that is over 30 feet (9 metres) high.
Crews heard tapping sounds, but Assistant Miami Dade Fire Chief Raide Jadallah stressed that rescuers aren’t sure if the sounds are caused by humans or the settling of the massive concrete, metal, and other belongings that were lost in the collapse.
Jadallah stated that “any time we hear a sound we concentrate on that area.” It could be steel twisting or debris falling down. But it is not specific sounds like tapping or human voices.
Large cranes lift the debris from the pile with large claws. This creates a sound like crashing metal and glass as they grab a load and dump it to one side. Jadallah stated that firefighters are also digging below the pile with jackhammers and saws to find pockets in the rubble.
Charles Burkett, Mayor of Surfside, stated that the debris removal should make it easier for rescuers and tunnel into pockets where survivors may be trapped.
He said, “Right now, we are picking up hazardous pieces that look like it could fall on our search-and-rescue guys.”
The challenges were compounded by frequent downpours and strong winds. Another concern was the possibility of a fire in the rubble. The mayor stated that they are working around the problem, and it is not stopping them.
Levine Cava stated that it was “incredibly motivating” for him to observe the rescue and search teams.
This work poses a great risk to the individuals involved. She said that debris is falling on them while they work.” “We have structural engineers on-site to make sure they don’t get hurt, but they are still going because they are so motivated and take extraordinary risks on the site every single day.”
Jadallah stated that firefighters are aware of the danger, but they are motivated by the hope to find survivors.
He said, “This is the risk we take: it’s the risk vs. the benefit.” “When we believe there is hope for personnel who are trapped, we risk our lives.”