The body of a firefighter's 7-year-old daughter was found among the rubble of the partially collapsed apartment complex in Florida.
The death toll in the collapse of a beachfront condo in Surfside, Florida, 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 initially disclosed, however, Local News 10 has since identified the girl as Stella Cattarossi.
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 Stella'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.
Removing victims from demolished building is 'difficult'
Search and rescue efforts were temporarily halted Thursday over fears that the other half of the building might come down.
Rescue workers are still searching for 126 people who are still missing and feared dead.
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.”
Residents told to leave apartment complex
All residents of Crestview Towers were told to leave immediately after engineers found serious concrete and electrical problems, said Arthur Sorey, city manager for North Miami Beach.
The move on Friday was considered urgent due to the approach of Hurricane Elsa, which is forecast to hit Florida as early as Monday. The building's owners had not yet begun a mandatory safety recertification process required 40 years after it was built, he said.
"It's definitely not an easy decision," Sorey said. "It's just the right thing to do during these times. It's uncertain what's going to happen with the storm."
Yahoo News US — Dylan Stableford
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