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Surfside collapse death toll up to 95; Baby identified as victim

14 people remain unaccounted for, mayor says

Police have also revealed that 1-year-old Aishani Gia Patel's body was recovered. Fourteen more Champlain Towers South residents remain potentially unaccounted for, officials said at a Tuesday morning news conference.
Police have also revealed that 1-year-old Aishani Gia Patel's body was recovered. Fourteen more Champlain Towers South residents remain potentially unaccounted for, officials said at a Tuesday morning news conference.

SURFSIDE, Fla. – An additional victim was found in the Surfside condo collapse rubble over the past day, raising the death toll to 95, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said Tuesday morning.

Of those victims, 85 have been identified, and next of kin for all 85 have been notified.

Five more victims’ identities were publicly released by Miami-Dade police on Tuesday afternoon, including a baby:

  • Aishani Gia Patel, age 1 (recovered July 6)
  • Andres Levine, 26 (recovered Sunday)
  • Moises Rodan Brief, 28 (recovered Sunday)
  • Mercedes Fuentes Urgelles, 61 (recovered Sunday)
  • Raymond Urgelles, 61 (recovered Sunday)

[ALSO SEE: READ STORIES ABOUT THE VICTIMS]

Aishani Gia Patel was identified by Miami-Dade County police on Tuesday, weeks after the June 24 tragedy at the Champlain Towers South.
Aishani Gia Patel was identified by Miami-Dade County police on Tuesday, weeks after the June 24 tragedy at the Champlain Towers South.

Levine Cava said 14 people remain potentially unaccounted for.

“I want to stress this is truly fluid,” she said. “We can only account for a missing person who may be deceased once the identification is made. So, that list of 14 includes 12 where missing person reports were filed with the police department and two other reports that detectives are continuing to try to verify.”

Levine Cava said identifying victims has become increasingly challenging in recent days.

“At this step in the recovery process, we’re relying heavily on the work of the medical examiner’s office,” she said. “It’s a scientific, methodical process to identify human remains. This work is becoming more difficult with the passage of time. Although our teams are working as hard as they can, it takes time.”

Officials said Tuesday morning’s news conference from near the condo site was the last one planned at this time, though they will continue to release information as it becomes available.

WATCH A REPLAY OF TUESDAY’S NEWS CONFERENCE:

More than 18 million pounds of concrete and debris have been removed by 892 trucks since the June 24 collapse of the Champlain Towers South, Levine Cava said.

Rain and lightning have also been an impediment to the recovery efforts. The Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department has been pumping water out of the lower levels of the collapse site.

Crews also had to put out a fire sparked by gasoline from one of the cars buried in the pile on Monday.

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Chief Alan Cominsky said the majority of vehicles have been recovered from the pile, but not all of them, so those fires remain a risk.

The recovery crews working the rubble have also been finding personal possessions, including some as small as rings and jewelry.

Federal investigators are on site marking debris as evidence at the Champlain Towers South collapse site
Federal investigators are on site marking debris as evidence at the Champlain Towers South collapse site

“The work is so delicate that we’re even finding unbroken wine bottles,” Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said. He said because of the information families have provided, search teams often know what to look for in specific parts of the pile. He held up a photo of a ring that was found in the wreckage where searchers believed it would be.

“They’re expecting to find these things. And in this case, they did,” Burkett said.

Police have added manpower to the site to ensure those personal belongings are recovered for the families.

And Burkett said Monday that discussions are underway about what will happen with the future of the condo collapse site.

Some residents who escaped the disaster want the tower rebuilt so they can move back in. Others want some kind of memorial site.

“We want the families to tell us what they want to see,” Burkett said. “I’m looking forward to having those discussions.”

Officials have said it could still be a couple of weeks until the crews finish the recovery mission.

In the meantime, an engineer hired by the Town of Surfside to investigate the cause of the collapse is looking for clues in the building’s twin, Champlain Towers North.

“We are just understanding how the building was put together in this north building, which will help us understand a little bit better in the south building,” Allyn Kilsheimer told Local 10 News.

Resources

Lt. Gov. Jeanette Núñez said that the website SurfsideAssistance.com has been set up so people can apply for help if affected by the tragedy.

Those wishing to donate to help the impacted families can click here.

CLICK HERE for complete coverage of the condo collapse.


About the Authors:

David Selig is the Digital Executive Producer at WPLG, overseeing Local10.com.

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.