Surfside building collapse: Who are the survivors? Rescuers continue digging as death toll rises

The death toll at Champlain Towers building reached nine on Sunday and an official said the situation looked dreadful


                            Surfside building collapse: Who are the survivors? Rescuers continue digging as death toll rises
Search and Rescue teams look for possible survivors in the partially collapsed 12-story Champlain Towers South condo building on June 27, 2021 in Surfside, Florida (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

SURFSIDE, MIAMI: A portion of Champlain Towers in Surfside, Miami, collapsed in the early hours of June 24, and rescue workers have been working day in and day out in search of survivors. On Sunday, the death toll had reached nine and an official said the situation looked dreadful. Rescue crews have been going over tons of rubble in hopes to find survivors. 

According to a report, four more people who had died in the collapse were identified on the evening of Sunday, May 27. Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava addressed the press at a news briefing on Sunday evening. Cava said a total of 134 people have been accounted for and 152 remain unaccounted for. Miami-Dade Police tweeted names of the newly identified victims on Sunday evening. "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 prayers," the tweet read.

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Who are the survivors of the Surfside building collapse?

Sharon Schechter is one of the 134 people accounted for after 55 of the 136 units of the Champlain Tower came crumbling down to the ground. Schechter, the owner of a Medicare Insurance Business left her house with no documents whatsoever but she made it out alive and she brought along her dog too. “I was one of two I think that survived on my floor,” Schechter said. The 60-year-old lived at 8777 Collins Ave and was woken up by "a little unusual" noise. In the next couple of minutes of waking up, she felt the building shake. Schechter peeped out of the window to assess what was happening and was shocked after she realized that the building had fallen.

“I realized, ‘Oh my God!’ Where is the building? There’s no building!’” she said. Without wasting much time she sprang into action, grabbed her dog, and ran out of the apartment. Schechter tried asking for help but it wasn't long before she realized she was on her own. All that was on her mind was to run out of the building towards safety and she was lucky enough to do so. Schechter tried calling one of her neighbors from her floor but didn't receive a response. “I feel like I’m mourning every minute for someone in that building,” Schechter said. “I am hoping that there is a reason why I survived — a bigger picture," she added. 

Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava at June 27th press briefing (Miami Dade Police/Twitter)

Also surviving the collapse is 72-year-old Steve Rosenthal who described the collapse as the "largest thunderclap" he had ever. On Sunday, Miami-Dade Fire Rescue Chief Alan Cominsky said they have appointed teams that are dedicated only to the rescue operations at Champlain Towers. "We have over 400 personnel strictly utilized for search and rescue," Cominsky said on Sunday. "It's a strategic process. We can't have one squad working right on top of another. So we have to space out. We have to have different components. So at one time, I think we have over 200 people working on that debris site," he added. A 125 feet long and 40 feet deep trench has been carved out to help in the search efforts. "This trench is very critical to the continuation of the search and rescue process," Cava said. "We continued all night to build that trench, and as a result of that, we were able to recover four additional bodies in the rubble, as well as additional human remains," she said on Sunday. Israel and Mexico are helping with the search efforts. 

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