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Death toll rises to 86 in Florida building collapse

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Miami-Dade County mayoress Daniella Levine Cava comforts a woman as she departs from the memorial site for victims of the collapsed 12-story Champlain Towers South condo building on July 07, 2021 in Surfside, Florida. (Photo by AFP)

The death toll from the collapse of a residential building in  Florida last month has climbed to 86 as legal action suits for negligence get underway. 

Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said on Saturday that   62 victims had been identified and 61 families or next of kin notified, while 43 people stilled remained potentially unaccounted for despite minimal chances for their survival.

“We can only truly account for a missing person that is deceased once an  identification is made,” said Levine Cava.

The ongoing search and rescue operations have  transformed into recovery operations for the deceased remains as no survivors have been pulled out of the rubble in more than two weeks since the incident.

Read more:
There are no survivors in Florida building collapse: Report

On June 24, a  large portion of the Champlain Towers South  complex,  a  40-year-old 12-story building in Surfside, a town north of Miami Beach, came tumbling down while dozens of residents were sleeping inside.

At the time the incident occurred, the building was undergoing a re-certification process requiring repairs. A consultant engineering firm had already warned about major structural damage to the building in a report issued in 2018.

Several legal action cases against the building owner over criminal negligence have already been launched by Champlain Towers families despite the unfinished search for victim.

The cause of the collapse remains unclear pending further investigation.

One of the families’ lawyers said the collapse raises widespread concerns about infrastructure issues and the trust put in those responsible for them.

Jeffrey Goodman, whose Philadelphia-based firm filed suit on behalf of the children of missing resident Harold Rosenberg said, “We deserve … to know that our loved ones can go to bed at night without worrying that they’re going to plummet 12 stories to the ground below in their sleep.”

So far, Champlain Towers South Condominium Association and  a local architect and engineer have been targeted in the lawsuits.

"The role of building owners and architects and engineers and inspectors and safety professionals is to make sure that buildings are safe for their occupants to be in,” Goodman said.

Attorney Robert Mongeluzzi, who also represents one of the victims families said cases such as these are not just about the compensation paid to the victims’ families. “They want to make this a quest to find out what happened.”

Mongeluzzi , who has been seeking access to the collapse site for his clients, said they want to know whose negligence caused the collapse. ” “We believe that evidence is still there.”

Mayoress Levine Cava told reporters earlier this week, “Everyone wants to know what could have been prevented, and how we make sure it never happens again.” “The whole world wants to know what happened here!”






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