The latest on the partial building collapse near Miami

By Melissa Mahtani, Adrienne Vogt, Melissa Macaya, Mike Hayes and Veronica Rocha, CNN

Updated 11:21 a.m. ET, June 30, 2021
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12:37 p.m. ET, June 29, 2021

Miami-Dade fire chief: Rescue teams have removed 3 million pounds of concrete from the collapse site

Miami Dade Fire Chief Alan Cominsky.
Miami Dade Fire Chief Alan Cominsky. Source: WPLG

Miami-Dade Fire Chief Alan Cominsky said that rescue teams have removed 3 million pounds of concrete so far from the collapse site.

"We're moving debris piece by piece and searching through. We moved over approximately 3 million pounds of concrete at this time. That's over 850 cubic feet," Cominsky said at a press conference Tuesday. 

He noted that when they first arrived on the site after the collapse, Miami-Dade Fire and Rescue was able to remove 37 individuals. "We continue searching," he said.

12:37 p.m. ET, June 29, 2021

Miami-Dade County mayor says experts will advise her on building issues to prevent future tragedies

Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said officials are taking “swift action” to address any issues with other buildings in the area that have not completed a 40-year recertification process.

Last night, a building officer notified a property in the county that four balconies must be immediately closed due to safety concerns, she said. 

Levine Cava also said that she will be meeting with experts in subject areas like engineering, geology, construction and legal fields.

“They will advise me on issues related to building construction, chain of custody and requirements for reporting, condominium regulation and more, so that my staff and I can develop a set of recommendations for changes that need to be made at all steps in the building process to ensure a tragedy like this will never, ever happen again,” she said. 

12:19 p.m. ET, June 29, 2021

Rescue efforts will continue to operate like victims are "missing until they are found," governor says

From CNN’s Gregory Lemos

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Source: WPLG

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis told reporters search and rescue teams at the Champlain Towers South collapse will continue to operate like victims are “missing until they are found.”

“The way I look at it, as an old Navy guy is, you know, when somebody is missing in action in the military, you're missing until you're found, and we don't stop the search,” DeSantis said during a news conference Tuesday. “Those first responders are breaking their back trying to find anyone they can.” 

DeSantis remarked at the grueling and heroic search and recovery efforts.

“Those guys are out there, breaking their back on that pile, when they’re digging tunnels and putting themselves in harm's way to try to find a void, to try to find an area where they could potentially rescue people, they have that mission and they're doing it and they're not shirking from it,” DeSantis said. 

The governor said the search continues with such commitment because people's loved ones were inside those condominiums. 

“I just thank them for all their efforts and I thank them for leaving no stone unturned,” DeSantis said.

12:06 p.m. ET, June 29, 2021

Miami-Dade mayor: No new fatalities to report at this time

Miami-Dade County, Florida Mayor Daniella Levine Cava .
Miami-Dade County, Florida Mayor Daniella Levine Cava . Source: WPLG

Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said that officials have no new fatalities to report since their last update.

"Since our last briefing, no new fatalities have been confirmed, but we have been able to notify each of the 11 families who have lost their loved ones," the mayor said.

She noted how important it is that the notifications to families and loved ones are able to occur. She thanked the Miami-Dade police department for their "very sensitive handling of this difficult matter."

Levine Cava said that all the names of those who died and have been identified have been released through their social media platforms.

12:26 p.m. ET, June 29, 2021

210 rescue workers on scene searching through rubble to find people, mayor says

From CNN's Elise Hammond

Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava.
Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava. Source: WPLG

Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said there are currently 210 people working to locate individuals in the rubble at the site of the Surfside, Florida, building collapse.

She said at a briefing on Tuesday that teams have come from all over the world to assist. They are working through inclement weather and 12-hour shifts and have been able "to make headway even in the face of all of those obstacles."

"There are more than sufficient personnel on site. We do not need additional resources. We have the best and we have sufficient what we need to get this job done," she said.

Cava said it is "painstaking, grueling work" and all first responders are being monitored medically to make sure they can continue searching safely.

12:18 p.m. ET, June 29, 2021

NOW: Officials provide update on condo collapse and rescue efforts

Surfside, Florida, officials and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis are giving an update now on the building collapse as search efforts continue at the site on day six.

The death toll rose to 11 on Monday, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said. The number of people unaccounted for decreased to 150 and the number of people who have been accounted for increased to 136, the mayor said.

More than 400 rescue workers are assigned to the search, with about 200 scouring the wreckage at any given time, Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Chief Alan Cominsky said.

11:47 a.m. ET, June 29, 2021

Biden will thank first responders and offer comfort to families in Florida Thursday

From CNN's Betsy Klein

President Biden will step into the role of comforter-in-chief Thursday when he travels to Surfside, Florida, with first lady Jill Biden in the aftermath of a building collapse as search and rescue efforts continue.

 “They want to thank the heroic first responders, search and rescue teams, and everyone that has been working tirelessly around the clock, and meet with the families who have been forced to endure this terrible tragedy, waiting, and anguish for word of their loved ones — to offer them comfort as search and rescue efforts continue,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters aboard Air Force One Tuesday.

The condo collapse is on track to become the largest mass casualty event of the Biden presidency so far, with at least 11 people dead and 150 unaccounted for.

Psaki said the White House is cognizant of not interrupting any of the ongoing recovery efforts. 

“The visit is being, of course, closely coordinated with officials on the ground to ensure it does not draw any critical local resources from ongoing search and rescue operations or have any negative operational impact,” she said.

Amid questions of whether he will be meeting with Gov. Ron DeSantis, Psaki said she had no additional details on meetings with state and local officials at this time.

12:08 p.m. ET, June 29, 2021

Man whose mother and grandmother are missing in condo collapse says he wants accountability and reform

Pablo Rodriguez, whose mother and grandmother are both unaccounted for in the Surfside condo collapse, said at this point his family is just hoping to recover their bodies to give them a proper burial. 

“The building doesn't just fall down, and it’s years of neglect. I know my mother complained, and several other owners complained many times about the condition of the building, where the monthly maintenance fees were going,” he said. 

“I hope that they're [held] accountable, I hope they’re investigated and I hope reform happens, because this should never happen again,” Rodriguez told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.

Rodriguez said that even though his mother voiced concerns about the maintenance of the building, “I don't think she ever thought that it would reach the level that it was going to collapse, because I guarantee she would not have been there,” he said. 

Rodriguez said he experiences waves of “complete despair” and numbness. He was near the building site yesterday, and said he collapsed when he got out of his car.  

“My legs just completely gave out from under me. I cried for a good 15 minutes there, not being able to move,” he said. 

He said his 6-year-old son is wondering why he can’t FaceTime or visit his grandma and great-grandma.

“I think he's beginning to understand that they're gone. I don't know if he's pieced together what that actually means yet or what has actually happened. But he's beginning to act a little differently, so we're going to have to push up the timetable on talking to him,” he said. 

11:41 a.m. ET, June 29, 2021

First responders looking for clues that may lead them to bedrooms in rubble 

From CNN’s Rosa Flores and John Couwels

A rescue team searching through the pile of rubble found a birthday card with butterflies and it filled crews with emotion, says Florida State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis.

"It had blood on it," Patronis said getting emotional. “It’s so wrong, families are going through such an unnatural set of experiences... It’s not human nature for us to accept it. So we fight it. We fight it.”

Patronis says that rescue crews are looking for clues in the rubble that lead them to where bedrooms are located. Since the collapse occurred in the middle of the night, Patronis says the likelihood that people were sleeping is very high.

Crews have been advised that bedrooms in the complex had carpet and bathrooms had tile, so crews are letting the type of flooring guide them. 

According to Patronis, crews are very careful with the albums and other personal items they have found because they know how special these personal belongings are to the families waiting to hear about their loved ones.