Search for bodies at collapsed Florida tower ends

Firefighters say their search for bodies in the rubble of the collapsed Florida tower block has finally ended.

At least 97 people were killed when the 12-storey Champlain Towers South fell in the early hours of 24 June.

After a month of combing through the debris, rescuers say one victim remains unaccounted for.

Nobody has been pulled alive from the rubble since the first hours after the disaster.

Officials switched from a search-and-rescue mission to a recovery effort on 7 July.

Battling tropical storms and the risk of unstable debris, rescuers worked through more than 13,000 tonnes of broken concrete.

The Surfside site has mostly been cleared, with the rubble moved to a state warehouse for further inspection.

After the search ended, officials thanked firefighters who worked 12-hour shifts while camping out at the site.

“It’s obviously devastating. It’s obviously a difficult situation across the board,” Fire Chief Alan Cominsky said at a ceremony on Friday.

“I couldn’t be prouder of the men and women that represent Miami-Dade Fire Rescue.”

The mission had to be been halted several times, due to instability in the mound of rubble as well as Tropical Storm Elsa. Officials had to order the part of the building that remained standing be demolished on 4 July.

Officials say there are no more bodies to be found at the site, but remains of Estelle Hedaya are still yet to be identified.

Her relatives say they are worried the 54-year-old could be forgotten.

“As we enter month two alone, without any other families, we feel helpless,” her brother Ikey told the Associated Press news agency.

The victims included the seven-year-old daughter of a Miami firefighter, a 92-year-old grandmother and the sister of Paraguay’s first lady.

The site – which is being treated as a crime scene – is now under the control of police.

What caused the 40-year-old building to fall to the ground while its residents slept remains unknown.

  

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