On Thursday, two weeks after the disaster, at least 64 people died in a building collapse on June 24 in Surfside, Florida, local officials said.
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The day before, emergency services decided to end the search for survivors, while 76 people are still missing.
Searching the pile of rubble of what was once a 12-story building on the waterfront has found no living victims, save for a teenage boy a few hours after the collapse.
But Charles Burkett, mayor of the small town of 6,000, said earlier Thursday that “we are still praying for a miracle,” stressing that “all hope is not lost.”
On the 15th day of operations, rescuers observed a brief minute of silence at 1:20 a.m., the time when part of the building collapsed.
“The work continues with the required speed and urgency,” said Daniela Levine Cava, mayor of Miami-Dade County, which includes Miami and Surfside.
“We are working 24 hours a day to find victims and allow families to grieve as quickly as possible,” she said during a news briefing.
Police officers and forensic experts are tasked with identifying corpses or human remains so that they can alert relatives of victims.
Ms Levin Kava noted that rabbis are cooperating with police to retrieve victims’ remains in connection with their religion, while Surfside has a large Jewish community.
Rescuers also put aside personal items, identity documents, photo albums, school certificates, jewelry, wallets, cell phones, tablets and weapons.
She called on the relatives of the victims to “report the missing and we will work in the coming weeks or months to return the families.”
At least 124 tons of debris have been removed from the ruins of the Champlain Towers South Building, which partially collapsed in a way that remains largely unexplained, although the structure of the building appeared to be deteriorating in places.
The rest of the building, with instability deemed dangerous, was the subject of a controlled demolition Sunday evening, allowing teams to advance into the hitherto inaccessible excavation areas.
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