Rescuers found the body of a fifth person in the rubble of a 12-story condominium that partially collapsed Thursday, the mayor of Miami-Dade County, Florida, said on Saturday. southeastern United States.
The number of people missing is now 156, Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said, adding that other human remains have also been found.
“Our top priority continues to be search and rescue and saving every possible life,” she said as workers continue to use rescue dogs and sonar to find survivors.
Earlier on Saturday, Cava said a fire deep in the rubble was hampering efforts to find and rescue people.
“We are facing very incredible difficulties with this fire. It’s a very deep fire, ”she told reporters. “It is extremely difficult to locate the source of the fire.
Cava said rescuers were using water, foam and infrared technology to put out the blaze and its source had not been determined.
The mayor of Surfside, the town in which the building is located, said on Saturday he was working to temporarily relocate residents from a nearby condominium that is almost identical to the collapsed building.
Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett also said he was trying to organize an emergency inspection of the sister building, which was also built in 1981 by the same developer as the collapsed building.
The New York Times reported earlier on Saturday that a 3-year-old engineer report on the partially collapsed building indicated it had “major structural damage” on the concrete slab under the pool deck.
In addition, the engineer observed “abundant” cracks and crumbling in the walls, beams and columns of the parking lot located under the building, according to the newspaper.
The report, the Time said, was the basis for a “multi-million dollar repair project scheduled to start soon.”
The newspaper said city officials released the engineer’s report on Friday evening.
The 2018 report gave no evidence the building was on the verge of collapse, but said “most deterioration in concrete needs to be repaired in a timely manner.”
The Washington Post, citing a study conducted last year, reported that the building was built on reclaimed wetlands on the barrier island that makes up the Miami Beach area and has been gradually sinking since the 1990s.
It is not known if these factors contributed to the incident.
Rescuers on Friday used heavy equipment to search for survivors in the rubble of the collapsed building after authorities said four people had been confirmed dead and 159 people were still missing.
Rescuers in Surfside, a suburb of Miami, used cranes as well as their own hands to dig through the debris.
Officials from the city of Miami and surrounding Dade County held a media briefing earlier Friday at the scene just north of Miami.
Miami-Dade Deputy Fire Chief Raide Jadallah said the entire building had been cleaned and checked so that rescue operations could focus on the rubble. He said 130 firefighters were working at the site.
Miami-Dade Police Director Freddy Ramirez said his office was working with the local medical examiner’s office to identify the victims.
US President Joe Biden has approved a declaration of emergency for the site, which will allow the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate relief efforts and provide additional funds.
“My heart is with the Surfside community as they mourn their lost loved ones and anxiously await search and rescue efforts to continue,” Biden tweeted.
The president spoke with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on Friday and said the federal government was ready to provide additional resources if needed.
The Associated Press and the Reuters news service contributed to this report.