Rescue teams move rubble by hand in search of the 151 missing
Five days after the collapse of a Surfside building in South Florida, the death toll rose to 11, announced Monday the Mayor of Miami-Dade County, Daniella Levine Cava, who specified that 151 people remain missing. “This morning we recovered another body. That brings the count to 10. The total number of people found is now 135. And the number of missing is 151, “said Levine Cava.
The harsh conditions of rescue efforts are taking a toll on teams. The members of the brigades are exhausted after hours of working in the sweltering heat in the difficult search for victims in the rubble.
The 300 Miami-Dade County firefighters, supported by reinforcements from across the state of Florida, were deployed moments after all 55 apartments in the Champlain Towers complex collapsed early Thursday morning.
In this mass of iron and concrete, operations are proceeding too slowly for some families of the victims. “It seems slow, but we’re moving as fast as possible,” said Maggie Castro, a member of the Miami-Dade Fire Department’s No. 1 Search and Rescue Unit, who nonetheless understands anger and frustration. “It is a difficult operation,” interrupted by regular thunderstorms and a fire that took a long time to control, he added in statements to AFP.
“We have to search through a huge pile of rubble in a methodical and strategic way,” explained Castro, 52, 17 of whom in the Miami Fire Department. “There are areas with possible air pockets where there may be survivors. If we rush into the rubble aggressively, we destroy those spaces.
Given the slow increase in the number of victims despite the magnitude of the tragedy, Castro said that “people were probably in bed when it happened,” so there is little chance of finding many at once. Heavy machinery, two cranes and an excavator were deployed on Friday. When a concrete slab is lifted, rescuers “work by hand, scooping out the rubble with buckets,” he said.
Faced with the impatience of the victims’ families, including many members of the Jewish community, the county welcomed a team of ten expert Israeli military personnel to join the rescue teams.
Castro recalls that his unit has experience: he participated in search and rescue work after the 2010 Haiti earthquake and in New Orleans after Hurricane ‘Katrina’ in 2005. Some of his team members also participated in relief operations afterwards. of the Oklahoma City bombings in 1995 and of September 11 in 2001.