Ns News Online Desk: The bodies of two children have been found in the rubble of a collapsed Florida tower block, raising the known death toll to 18, rescuers say. Rescue teams have been able to build a ramp for a crane to reach areas of the ruined building.
Nearly 150 people are still missing after the collapse one week ago. The latest victims to be found have not yet been publicly identified. Officials say they remain hopeful that some survivors could be found.
rescuers search wreckage .Rescue teams say they are working 12-hour shifts as they comb the rubble in the town of Surf side, north of Miami, despite sweltering heat and high humidity hampering their efforts.
“They are digging as if there are survivors there. They are still remaining hopeful, but it is indeed a terrible tragedy all around,” Florida Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nuñez told the BBC.
Fresh rescue teams are due to arrive from other states, with severe tropical weather expected to hit the area in the coming days. As well as bad weather, search and rescue teams have also faced fires and falling debris.
An Israeli team helping with the rescue efforts told CNN it had discovered some tunnels large enough for a person, though most of the debris was “very, very tight.”One family confirmed on Wednesday that the 12th person found dead after the collapse was 92-year-old Hilda Noriega.
They said they had lost the “heart and soul” and “matriarch”, but would “get through this time by embracing the unconditional love Hilda was known for”
.What caused nearly half of the 40-year-old Champlain Towers south block to fall as residents slept in the early hours of last Thursday remains unknown.
Lawsuits are already being filed over the disaster, with the latest accusing the block’s building association of “reckless and negligent conduct”.
Miami-Dade County State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said she would convene a special grand jury to examine building safety and “what steps we can take to safeguard our residents” from similar disasters in the future.
US President Joe Biden and his wife Jill plan to visit the scene of the tragedy later on Thursday.