Mayor: Death toll in Florida condo collapse now 78

SURFSIDE, FL (AP) – The death toll from the collapse of an apartment building in the Miami area rose to 78 on Friday, a number the mayor called “heartbreaking” and “stunning” as rescue workers worked for the 16th. day to find victims in the ruins. Another 62 people remain unaccounted for.

No one has been found alive since the first hours after the building collapsed on June 24.

Levin Kava said work to restore the victims was still urgently needed.

“This is a stunning and heartbreaking number that affects us all very deeply,” she said of the new victims.

On Thursday, Paraguay’s foreign minister told a radio report that the body of the country’s first lady’s sister was among those found. Several Latin American citizens were reported in the building when it collapsed. Rescuers, now focused on finding the remains instead of survivors, have pledged to continue searching for victims until they clear all the debris.

The intensified search for survivors turned to a recovery effort at midnight on Wednesday after authorities said they had come to the painful conclusion that there was no “chance of life” in the ruins of the Champlain Towers South apartment building in Surfside.

Hopes of finding survivors resurfaced shortly after workers demolished the rest of the building, allowing access to new pieces of debris. There were some cavities where survivors could be trapped, mostly in the basement and garage, but no one was found alive. Instead, the teams recovered more than a dozen additional casualties.

No one has been rescued alive since the first hours after the 12-story building collapsed on June 24.

State and local officials have promised financial assistance to the victims’ families, as well as to residents of the building who survived but lost all their property. Authorities, meanwhile, are launching a major jury investigation into the collapse. And at least six cases have been filed by families.

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