More human remains emerged Wednesday from the rubble of the collapsed apartment tower in Florida, but this time among the dead were the first children, ages 4 and 10, according to the AP.
Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava made the announcement nearly a week after the property collapsed. After some preliminary remarks at a press conference, he took a deep breath to gain strength and turned to his notes. With a broken voice, he said that the revelation was accompanied by "great sorrow, real pain."
"Any life lost, especially given the unexpected and unprecedented nature of this event, is a tragedy," he said. But the loss of children was an even greater burden.
Miami-Dade police later identified the girls as Lucía Guara, 10, and Emma Guara, 4. The remains of their father, Marcus Guara, 52, were pulled from the rubble Saturday and identified Monday. . The girls and their mother, Anaely Rodríguez, 42, were recovered Wednesday.
Rescuers removed six more bodies from the rubble on Wednesday, bringing the total number of confirmed deaths to 18. It is the highest number of bodies recovered in a single day since the building collapsed last Thursday. The number of inhabitants of the condominium whose whereabouts is unknown is now 145.
Hours earlier, search crews built a ramp that would allow the use of heavy machinery, which could speed up the removal of concrete that "could lead to that incredibly good news," state fire chief Jimmy Patronis said Wednesday.
Since the sudden collapse of the 12-story Champlain Towers South in Surfside, rescuers have been working to remove layers of concrete without disturbing the unstable pile of debris.
Miami-Dade Deputy Fire Chief Raide Jadallah informed family members Wednesday that a ramp built over the pile overnight allowed first responders to use a crane in sections they previously did not have access to, and that this improves workloads. chances of finding new holes in the search for survivors.
"We hope to start to see some significant improvements in terms of being able to (find) any gaps that we can't see," Jadallah said.
Patronis told The Associated Press that the ramp will allow heavy machinery to get closer to areas where debris must be removed. The new equipment includes a demolition cutter, a massive machine that has a scissor-like tool at the end of a long arm for cutting concrete and steel.
Officials were concerned that an underground parking garage could collapse under the weight of heavy machinery, so they decided to build the ramp out of limestone, Patronis said. He added that dogs are used to check for survivors in the area where the machinery works and then the demolition mower is dispatched.
"So you can really make serious and quick breakthroughs because of the hydraulic force that this team can exert compared to a human being with hand tools," Patronis said.
The cause of the collapse is still being investigated. A 2018 engineering report found that the pool area on the building's ground floor was on a concrete slab that had "serious structural damage" and was in need of extensive repairs. The report also found "extensive cracking" in concrete columns, cross members and walls in the parking lot.
Just two months before the property collapsed, the chairman of the condominium board wrote a letter to residents informing that the structural problems identified in the 2018 inspection "have significantly worsened" and that the repairs would cost at least $ 15,5 million. While the budget evaluation for the work was still pending, the building suddenly collapsed.