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Search for Miami condo collapse survivors ends as 54 dead, 86 missing

Miami-Dade fire officials announced Wednesday that operations at the collapsed condo in Surfside will switch from rescue to recovery nearly two weeks after a portion of the building fell (Picture: AP)

The search and rescue effort for victims of the Miami-area building collapse has officially shifted to recovery, meaning that survivors are no longer expected to be pulled from the rubble. Victims’ families sobbed on Wednesday as officials informed them there was ‘no chance of life’ anymore.

During a private briefing with the victims’ families on Wednesday afternoon, Miami-Dade Assistant Fire Chief Raide Jadallah said that crews would stop using rescue dogs and devices to listen for humans. They will keep searching for remains.

‘Our sole responsibility at this point is to bring closure,’ Jadallah said as relatives cried.

For nearly two weeks after the June 24 partial collapse of Champlain Towers South in Surfside, Florida, rescue crews looked for spaces in the debris that were big enough for people who might still be alive. That has now been called off.

‘We noticed the stress, the force of the pressure of the walls and the floors just pretty much again sustained no chance of life,’ Jadallah said.

On Wednesday, eight more bodies were recovered, bringing the death toll up to 54, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said at a press conference. Still, 86 people remain unaccounted for. Of those found dead, 33 have been identified.

‘At this point, we have truly exhausted every option available to us in the search-and-rescue mission,’ Cava said.

The official transition from rescue to recovery efforts was set to occur at midnight, with a moment of silence planned just after 7 pm, authorities said.

There was a spark of hope that more survivors could be found after workers demolished the rest of the condo, which gave crews access to new parts of the wreckage. However, no more survivors were found, and dozens of victims were pulled.

The only survivors who were rescued were in the first hours after the 12-story building fell.

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