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Surfside tower collapse: ‘Zero’ hope of finding survivors

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image captionNo survivors have been found since the hours after the building collapsed on 24 June

Rescue teams combing the rubble of a collapsed apartment building in Florida are switching from a search-and-rescue mission to a recovery effort.

The decision comes about two weeks after the 12-storey Champlain Towers South fell in the middle of the night.

Fifty-four victims have been found and 86 are still missing, Surfside city officials said.

No survivors have been found since the initial collapse, and rescue crews say many victims were found in their beds.

News that the rescue mission was ending came during a private meeting on Wednesday between families of the missing and Miami-Dade Assistant Fire Chief Raide Jadallah.

Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett later told a news conference: “Today’s news is extremely tough.

“We’ve all worked passionately day and night for two weeks to save lives. The announcement today comes as a result of a consensus by those closest to the rescue efforts that the possibility of someone still alive is near zero.

“And while there seems to be no chance of finding life in the rubble, a miracle is still possible.”

The teams had been working in continuous 12-hour shifts, and were assisted by crews from Israel and Mexico.

media caption“People went to sleep, and then they died”

The death toll jumped by 10 on Wednesday, after Surfside officials say they were able to remove a large section of concrete.

Rescuers have been filling buckets with concrete by hand, and passing them down a line as they remove debris. The rubble is being kept in a state warehouse for further inspection.

The mission has been halted several times, due to instability in the mound of rubble as well as Tropical Storm Elsa, which made landfall in Florida on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, a grand jury investigation has been launched to try to determine the reason for the 24 June collapse.

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