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Surfside tower collapse: Final victim identified from rubble

image copyrightMichelle Borriello/Facebook

image captionEstelle Hedaya, from New York, worked for a jewellery company and lived on the building’s sixth floor

The family of the final victim unaccounted for in a deadly apartment block collapse in Florida say her remains have been found and identified.

The discovery ends a weeks-long wait for the family of 54-year-old Estelle Hedaya, who had been missing since her building collapsed on 24 June.

Her brother Ikey Hedaya told US media that local New York police delivered the news to their family on Monday.

Her discovery brings the death toll in the collapse disaster to 98.

Search teams spent weeks combing the rubble for victims but said on Friday that their search had finally ended. At that time, Estelle Hedaya was still unaccounted for.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said Monday that police volunteers were continuing to “carefully and meticulously” sift through millions of pounds of debris at a secondary site looking for remains and personal items.

“We have done everything possible to bring closure to the families and I am especially proud that through these tireless efforts we were able at last to bring closure to all those who reported missing loved ones,” she told reporters.

Officials say the site where the 12-floor Champlain Towers South building once stood is being treated as a crime scene.

What caused the 40-year-old building to fall to the ground remains unknown, but a 2018 report had found structural problems with the oceanside block.

All but one of those killed were recovered dead in the rubble, with one victim dying in hospital.

A Jewish funeral is expected to take place for Estelle Hedaya in New York on Tuesday, the AP news agency reports.

Her family and friends described her as outgoing and fun-loving and said she loved to travel and try new things, like salsa dancing.

Other victims of the disaster include the seven-year-old daughter of a Miami firefighter, a 92-year-old grandmother and the sister of Paraguay’s first lady.

media captionMiami-Dade Fire Rescue shared a video to show how they’re working to clear the rubble

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