LIVE UPDATES: Florida rescuers find 11th victim in condo collapse

Man expects to never see his mom, grandmother ever again after condo collapse

Pablo Rodriguez’s mother and grandmother are among the 150 people missing following the condo collapse near Miami last week.

Rodriguez told “Your World” on Monday that he’s expecting the worst.

“After seeing the video, I had accepted that I’m never seeing my mother or my grandmother alive again,” he said. “As for hope that we’re going to be able to see them, that for me doesn’t exist. I just hope that they’re able to at least recover them so we can give them a proper burial.”

Rodriguez said he spoke with his mother the night before the collapse and she mentioned she was awoken by a loud creaking sound in the middle of the night. Now, he said he regrets not acting sooner.

“I replay it over and over,” he said. “Why didn’t we pay more attention to it? At the time, I really didn’t give it much thought. It’s not a noise that a building normally makes. Buildings don’t creak loud enough to wake you up.”

Rodriguez noted in his past experiences visiting the condo, he could recall noticing cracks and flooding in the infrastructure, as well as hearing reports of mismanagement. The big question, he said, is where the hundreds of thousands of maintenance fee dollars have been going if not for maintaining the building’s foundation.

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State Department expedites visa process for familes of condo collapse survivors, victims

The U.S. State Department is speeding up the visa process for relatives of residents of the Surfside, Fla. condo building that collapsed Thursday, the Miami Herald reported, citing McKinley Lewis, communications director for Sen. Rick Scott.

At least 36 people from Latin American nations including Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela are among the 150 still missing after the collapse, according to the report.

“We are working directly with the State Department to ensure quick processing of visa applications,” Lewis told the newspaper. “Senator Scott’s office has already helped several families expedite their travel and is very appreciative of the responsiveness State has shown in helping those affected by this terrible tragedy.”

11th victim found in rubble, mayor says

An 11th body has been found in the rubble following the Champlain Towers South condo collapse, Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said Monday evening.

Another 150 people are still missing following the collapse.

Cava said county officials were auditing other buildings for any other “life safety issues.”

“So far, we are confident that things are safe,” she said.

Miami-area condo collapse: Despite warning, town deemed building’s structure in ‘good shape’

Despite an engineer’s warning of major structural problems, a town building official told board members their Florida high-rise condominium was in “very good shape” almost three years before it collapsed, according to minutes of that meeting released Monday.

The Surfside official, Rosendo “Ross” Prieto was quoted as making those comments at a meeting of the Champlain Towers South board on Nov. 15, 2018. That was just over a month after engineering firm Morabito Consultants issued a report describing key flaws in the structure.

The discussion with Prieto came as Champlain Towers was beginning to explore what work was needed under city and county ordinances for the building to meet a 40-year recertification that was to arrive in 2021.

The board meeting minutes say that Prieto told them in 2018 the Morabito engineering report had collected the necessary information and “it appears the building is in very good shape.”

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Miami condo collapse: Remembering the dead and missing as officials confirm 10th victim

Authorities said Monday that the remains of 10 people have been found in the collapse of a 12-story beachfront condominium in Florida. The Associated Press has been reporting brief descriptions of the dead and the missing. 

Police said they identified the remains of Leon and Christina Oliwkowicz, an elderly couple from Venezuela with ties to Jewish communities in Florida and Chicago. They also found the bodies of Luis Bermudez, a young man with muscular dystrophy, and his mother Ana Ortiz, who were from Puerto Rico. 

Authorities said 151 other people remain unaccounted for as rescuers search through the rubble of Champlain Towers South. Among them are Linda March, whose penthouse apartment was ripped apart, leaving her office chair and a set of bunkbeds next to the abyss. 

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Condominium association hit with second lawsuit after devastating collapse, report says

A second lawsuit has been filed against the Champlain Towers South Condominium Association, this one by a resident of the building, according to Newsmax.

Engineering firm’s 2018 building examination found ‘significant cracks and breaks in the concrete’

The Miami Herald reported that Morabito Consultants, the structural engineering firm that discovered cracks and breaks in the building’s concrete, issued a statement that said, in part: “As has been reported, Morabito Consultants was retained in 2018 by the Champlain Towers South Condominium Association to prepare the 40-year Recertification of the condo building, as required by Miami-Dade County and the Town of Surfside … We completed our inspection and provided our report to the condominium association with an estimate of the probable costs to make the extensive and necessary reports.” 

The statement adds: “Among other things, our report detailed significant cracks and breaks in the concrete, which required repairs to ensure the safety of the residents and the public.” 

The building had already begun roof repairs, “but concrete restoration had not yet begun,” the statement continues. 

President Biden “does believe there should be an investigation” involving federal resources into how the Champlain Towers South condo building collapsed, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki says. 

“Certainly, we want to play any constructive role we can play with federal resources in getting to the bottom of it and preventing it from happening in the future,” she added. 

Missing NYC woman moved to Surfside for ‘fresh start,’ friend says

A Manhattan attorney who survived a bout of COVID-19 moved to the doomed Florida condo tower this year for a “fresh start,” according to her best friend.  

New York City native Linda March is now among 152 people missing following the disaster last week at Champlain Towers South that’s left at least nine people dead.  

Her close pal Rochelle Laufer told the Miami Herald that March relocated to Surfside in the Sunshine State in March and rented the penthouse at the now-partially collapsed building.  

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Surfside mayor describes moment that ‘really brought it home to me’

Charles Burkett, the mayor of Surfside, says he spotted a young girl sitting in a chair by herself late last night at the building collapse site, reading aloud a Jewish prayer.

Burkett says he learned from the child that one of her parents was inside the building at the time of the disaster and remains unaccounted for, while the other lives a few buildings away. 

“That really brought it home to me. She wasn’t crying, she was just lost,” Burkett said. “She didn’t know what to do, what to say, who to talk to, and I was looking for her this morning at that family meeting and I didn’t see her but I am going to find her and I’m going to tell her that we are all here for her and we are going to do the best we can to bring out that parent.” 

Tenth victim found in rubble, mayor says

Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava says a tenth body has been found this morning in the search for survivors of the Champlain Towers South condo collapse. 

As of midday Monday, 151 people still remain unaccounted for following the disaster, she says. 

“We are going to continue and work ceaselessly to exhaust every possible option in our search,” Cava told reporters during a press conference. 

Surfside’s mayor is holding a press conference as the search and rescue mission continues.

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Woman tells husband that pool caved in, report says

A woman missing in the deadly Florida condo building collapse called her husband as the tragedy unfolded — and said she saw a sinkhole where the pool used to be before the line went dead, according to a new report.  

“It was 1:30 a.m., I’ll never, never forget that,” Mike Stratton, husband of Cassie Stratton, 40, told the Miami Herald.  

The model, actress and Pilates instructor woke her husband in Washington, D.C. and frantically told him that their building was shaking before making the startling comments about a sinkhole, according to the outlet.  

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A shrine has been setup outside St. Joseph Catholic Church in Surfside on Monday for the Guara family, Marc and Ana and their children Lucia and Emma. They are four of at least a dozen parishioners missing or killed following the building collapse.  

Shimon Wdowinski, a Florida International University professor, says there were signs of sinking before the building collapsed. 

Click here to watch his interview on ‘Fox & Friends.’ 

Financial aid for victims’ families

Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava says $1.2 million has been raised so far through a “hardship fund to help those impacted by the devastating building collapse.”

“On behalf of Miami-Dade County, we are so deeply grateful to the entire global community for the outpouring of support,” she added in a tweet.

Families of the missing visit site of Florida condo collapse

Families of the missing visited the scene of the Florida condo building collapse Sunday as rescuers kept digging through the mound of rubble and clinging to hope that someone could yet be alive somewhere under the broken concrete and twisted metal.

The death toll rose by just four people, to a total of nine confirmed dead. But after almost four full days of search-and-rescue efforts, more than 150 additional people were still missing in Surfside. No one has been pulled alive from the pile since Thursday, hours after the collapse.

Some families had hoped their visit would allow them to shout messages to loved ones possibly buried deep inside the pile.

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Developers of doomed Fla. tower were once accused of paying off officials: report

The developers of the Miami condo tower that collapsed were once accused of paying off local officials to get permits for the site — which needed $15 million in repairs just to bring it to code, a new report says.

Building rivals claimed that the partners behind Surfside Champlain Towers South were receiving preferential treatment when it came to getting through the permit system as the site was being built in 1981, the Washington Post said.

Surfside’s developers had contributed to the campaigns of at least two town-council members, then demanded that the donations be returned when the allegations surfaced, according to the outlet.

Click here to read more at Fox News.

FEMA chief in Florida to coordinate building collapse federal support efforts

The head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is in south Florida on Sunday, coordinating with officials as the official death toll in the Miami-area condominium collapse rose to at least nine people, with some 152 building occupants remaining unaccounted.

FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell met Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Surfside, Fla., Mayor Mayor Charles Burkett and Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava. Criswell tweeted that she made the trip to Florida “to support the ongoing response efforts in #Surfside. We are working with state & local officials to provide resources and help alleviate the hardship and suffering caused by the recent building collapse.”

Click here to read more at Fox News

Holding on to hope

On Sunday, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz said she met with rescue workers and was able to “hear the hope that they have.”

“We obviously have some realism that we’re dealing with. But … as long as the experts that we trust are telling me they have hope to find people who might have been able to survive, then we have to make sure that we hold on to that hope,” Schultz said.

Rescuers identify four additional victims in Surfside condo collapse — at least 9 dead

Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said Sunday evening that rescuers had identified four additional victims in the partial collapse of the Chaplain Towers South building.

Miami-Dade police identified the additional four people as Leon Oliwkowicz, 80; Christina Beatriz Elvira, 74; Anna Ortiz, 46; and Luis Bermudez, 26.

“We have identified four additional victims that sadly and unexpectedly lost their lives in the tragic Surfside building collapse. Please keep their families and loved ones in your prayer,” police wrote.

On Saturday, police announced that four of the five deceased people had been identified.

They were identified as Stacie Dawn Fang, 54; Antonio Lozano, 83; Gladys Lozano, 79; and Manuel LaFont, 54.

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