The death toll in the collapse of a beachfront condo in Surfside, Fla., increased to 22 on Friday after two more bodies were pulled from the rubble overnight.
One of them was the 7-year-old daughter of a Miami firefighter.
Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava made the grim announcement at a press conference Friday morning.
“Last night we discovered two additional victims,” Cava said. “Tragically, one of those victims was the 7-year-old daughter of a city of Miami firefighter.”
Every night since the building’s collapse has been difficult for families and rescue crews, Cava said, but “last night was uniquely different and truly difficult for our first responders.”
“These men and women are paying an enormous human toll each and every day,” she said. “And I ask that all of you keep all of them in your thoughts and prayers.”
The names of the firefighter and his daughter were not disclosed.
Miami Mayor Francis Suarez said the fire department was “grieving tremendously” and that the chief had asked for privacy.
“This tragedy has haunted so many of us because so many of us have known someone in the building or affected by this tragedy,” Suarez said.
“I’m the father of two children; I have a 7-year-old son,” he added. “The thought of losing him in this way is unimaginable.”
According to the Miami Herald, the man and his brother, another firefighter, had “kept a vigil since the night of the collapse, staying on the site every day until they found the girl."
He was not part of the search and was not at the site when his daughter’s body was found.
Hundreds of firefighters, as well as search teams from Israel, Mexico and the Army Corps of Engineers, have been working in shifts around the clock on the pile of twisted metal and concrete, searching for signs of life.
No survivors have been pulled from the rubble since last Thursday, when 37 people were taken out alive in the hours after Champlain Towers South partially collapsed.
Search and rescue efforts were temporarily halted Thursday over fears that the other half of the building might come down.
Cava said that engineers are assessing whether the part of the building left standing could be demolished without disrupting the search for survivors.
“Every victim we remove, it’s difficult,” Miami-Dade Fire Chief Alan Cominsky said. “Last night was even more, when we’re removing a fellow firefighter’s daughter.
“As firefighters, we do what we do,” he added. “It’s kind of a calling. But it still takes a toll.”
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