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Second Florida tower evacuated as toll rises to 22

The discovery of the girl’s remains was especially hard on rescuers, Levine Cava said

SNS | SURFSIDE |

The number of people missing from the Florida condominium partial collapse decline following a new review but local officials ordered a second residential complex evacuated after examining its conditions to be unsafe.

All the residents of the 156-unit Crestview Towers, the second building, were told to leave immediately while a structural assessment is conducted and next steps are determined, Arthur H Sorey III, city manager said.

Crestview Towers residents could be seen on Friday evening hauling suitcases and packing items into cars outside the building, which was constructed in 1972. City officials were trying to help residents find places to go.

Meanwhile, authorities in Surfside said four more bodies had emerged from the rubble, including the 7-year-old daughter of a Miami firefighter, bringing the confirmed death toll to 22.

But there was also relief. Closer inspection of missing persons list reduced the number from 145 to 126 after duplicate names were eliminated and some residents reported missing turned up safe, officials said.

“So this is very, very good news,” Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said.

Detectives have contacted apparently missing people and found in some case, even their families were safe.

The 7-year-old who perished in the collapse was “a member of our fire family,” Miami Mayor Francis Suarez said.

The discovery of the girl’s remains was especially hard on rescuers, Levine Cava said.

“It was truly different and more difficult for our first responders,” she said at a news conference.

The mayor also said she signed an emergency order to demolish the remaining part of the building once engineers have signed off on it.

“Our top priority is search and rescue,” Cava said. “The building poses a threat to public health and safety.”

No one has been rescued since the first hours after the June 24 collapse.

During a meeting Friday with relatives of the missing, Miami-Dade Assistant Fire Chief Raide Jadallah said that only one voice has been heard during the entire search. A woman’s voice was detected until about 10 am or 11 am on the morning of the collapse, which happened around 1:30 am. Rescuers were unable to reach her, and he said no other voices or human sounds have been heard since.

“Most of the victims have been deceased in their bedroom indicating they were asleep,” he said.

Jadallah also prepared the families for a possible suspension of the search if Hurricane Elsa – now in the eastern Caribbean – brings strong winds to South Florida that would make the work too dangerous. Search efforts have been stopped briefly several times because of inclement weather.

“We will try to go as long as we can, but you can see from different periods of inclement weather we’ve had, we have stopped,” Miami-Dade Fire Chief Alan Cominsky said.

Some rescue workers who are now staying in tents will be moved to cruise ships, which can stay safe during a tropical storm, Jadallah said.

About 600 first responders will stay on the Royal Caribbean ship Explorer of the Seas, the cruise line said.