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Miami building collapse: Joe Biden says families are ‘realistic’

President Joe Biden delivered remarks after spending Thursday meeting with first responders and victims’ families at the Miami-area building collapse site (Picture: Getty Images)

Former President Joe Biden after spending the day at the Miami-area building collapse site said that victim’s families are ‘very realistic’ about the dwindling chances of any survivors – but urged search efforts to continue.

Speaking during a briefing Thursday afternoon, Biden said he met with willing family.

‘I thought it was important to speak to every single person who wanted to speak to me. So after what you all covered when I opened up the meeting, I spent the remainder of the time and – such incredible people,’ Biden said from Bal Harbour, Florida. ‘I sat with one who had just lost her husband and her little baby boy.’

Biden said he saw how critical it was to recover at least their loved ones’ bodies.

President Joe Biden pauses as he speaks in Miami Beach, Fla., Thursday, July 1, 2021, about the condo tower that collapsed in Surfside, Fla., last week. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Caption: President Joe Biden pauses as he speaks in Miami Beach, Fla., Thursday, July 1, 2021, about the condo tower that collapsed in Surfside, Fla., last week. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Photographer: Susan Walsh
Provider: AP
Source: AP
(Credits: AP)
President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden visit a photo wall, ‘Surfside Wall of Hope & Memorial’, near the partially collapsed 12-story Champlain Towers South condo building in Surfside, Florida (Picture: Getty Images)

‘They know that the chances as each day goes by diminish slightly,’ the president said. ‘But at minimum, at minimum, they want to recover the bodies. There’s a lot of very religious people’.

Biden noted that many of the family members were part of the Jewish community or from South America and Latin America.

‘I think they were very realistic,’ Biden said, responding to a reporter’s question. ‘But I don’t think that in any way suggests that we should stop. I think we should move on, continue to recover the bodies.’

Crews suspended search efforts for any survivors of the Champlain Towers South partial collapse on Thursday morning over concerns that the remainder of the condo would crumble. The pause came a week after part of the building fell, and as the death toll reached 18 people and 145 remained unaccounted for.

President Joe Biden flew to Florida on July 1 to comfort families of people killed or still missing in the rubble of a beachfront apartment building

President Joe Biden flew to Florida on July 1 to comfort families of people killed or still missing in the rubble of a beachfront apartment building (Picture: Getty Images)
An aerial view of the site during a rescue operation of the Champlain Tower partially collapsed in Surfside, Florida (Picture: Getty Images)

‘There’s still the possibility that someone could still be breathing,’ Biden said. ‘The last thing you want to happen is (it) to collapse and kill 10, 20, 50 firefighters and first responders.’

The president and First Lady Jill Biden arrived in Surfside, Florida, on Thursday morning and received a briefing from local officials. They then met with first responders and spent hours speaking with victims’ families in a hotel ballroom.

Biden said he was ‘amazed’ by ‘the resilience’ of the families and that some families raised concerns of the building shaking before it fell and wondered whether global warming and incoming tropical storms had an impact. However, he said there is no ‘firm proof’ yet of the cause of the collapse.

‘I don’t think there is at this point any definitive judgement as to why it collapsed and what can be done to prevent it from happening,’ Biden said, ‘And what other buildings may have to be inspected to determine if they had the same problems.’

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