SURFSIDE, Fla. – It was just after 1 a.m. on June 24, 2021, when Champlain Towers South failed, collapsing early on a Thursday morning. Rescuers immediately began searching for survivors in the rubble.
“We are working around the clock and we have hope,” Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said in the hours following the collapse.
Family and friends of the victims were waiting and hoping for news. The 98 victims came from 14 countries. Search and rescue teams from as far away as Mexico and Israel flew in to help.
“Miracles happen every day and you know what? I always know there will be someone in the next few days who will come out of this rubble,” a friend of the victim told WPTV outside the family reunification center .
Crews worked 12-hour shifts, sifting through rubble, battling fires and rain. Just over a week after the collapse, the the decision has been made to knock down the other side of the condo.
The demolition has come the night of July 4. Twenty minutes later, the crews are again searching for victims and survivors.
Just three days later, the mission changed from search and rescue to search and recovery.
“We have made the extremely difficult decision to transition from search and rescue operation to recovery“, said Levine Cava during one of his daily briefings.
More than a month after the collapse, the 98th and final victim has been identified. It was around the same time that crews cleared the final rubble from the site of the collapse.
A total of 22 million pounds of debris has been moved to an undisclosed facility so investigators can use it to try to determine the cause of the collapse. The death toll makes the collapse one of the deadliest building collapses of all time.
In May, survivors and families of victims reach interim settlement above the collapse. A the judge gave final approval Thursday, which means the plaintiffs will split more than $1 billion.
On May 24, the the site was auctioned off for $120 million to a developer in Dubai. The site plans call for luxury condominiums.
A public commemoration will be held on the anniversary of the collapse at the site of the South Champlain Towers. Other private events are planned for the relatives of the victims.