Search crews recover 8 bodies in Surfside Tuesday, death toll rises to 36

Search and rescue efforts continued Tuesday in Surfside with another eight bodies found in the rubble of the collapsed condo building, bringing the official death toll to 36.

SURFSIDE, Fla. – Search and rescue efforts have continued in Surfside Tuesday with another eight bodies found in the rubble of the collapsed condo building, bringing the official death toll to 36.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said that 29 of the victims have been identified. She said 109 people are possibly missing in the rubble.

According to the mayor, about 70 of those unaccounted for were confirmed to be inside of the building at the time of the collapse.

She said the others were people who were initially reported missing to law enforcement by loved ones, however authorities have been having difficulty reaching every person who reported someone missing to verify whether that person was actually in the building on June 24.

“Detectives are conducting ongoing and very thorough reviews of these names and reports,” she said. “Many were originally submitted incomplete. So, we may have a name without an apartment number or date of birth or other details.”

Watch Tuesday afternoon’s media briefing below:

Three victims identified Tuesday are 76-year-old Nancy Levin, 52-year-old Jay Kleiman and 67-year-old Francis Fernandez Plasencia. All were recovered on Monday.

Levine Cava said cooling stations have been brought in for crews at the scene and Royal Caribbean has also brought in a ship where first responders can rest in between shifts.

Heavy duty circular saws and large lifting cranes are now digging through a previously untapped area of the collapsed condo site, but there have been issues.

“The bad weather, unfortunately, has caused some temporary pauses of the work, specifically lightning, which as you know, is not safe,” Levine Cava said on Monday.

The wind was whipping over the debris field Monday afternoon as an outer band from Tropical Storm Elsa pushed through, creating a dangerous environment.

“Definitely the wind gusts, you know, with all the debris and all the components,” Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Chief Alan Cominsky said.

Still, several K-9′s and search-and-rescue teams managed to find the remains of four people on Monday.

Crews have also hauled away nearly 5 million pounds of concrete since the initial collapse.

“The site is busier and more active now than I’ve seen it since we began,” Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said.

A controlled demolition Sunday night brought down the rest of the Champlain Towers South building over fears the storm would do the same in a much more dangerous fashion.

“I think it was a good effort,” Gov. Ron DeSantis said. “I think it was the right thing to do and I think it will help us move forward unimpeded.”

We’re told families of the missing understand the painful decision to demolish the structure, but it wasn’t easy for people like Ashley Dean, whose sister Cassondra Stanton is still missing in the rubble.

“It was a haunting feeling to know that it was happening or to hear it,” she said. “So I changed hotels and moved a bit away.”


About the Authors:

Glenna Milberg joined Local 10 News in September 1999 to report on South Florida's top stories and community issues. She also serves as co-host on Local 10's public affairs broadcast, "This Week in South Florida."

Saira Anwer joined the Local 10 News team in July 2018. Saira is two-time Emmy-nominated reporter and comes to South Florida from Madison, Wisconsin, where she was working as a reporter and anchor.