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Rescue crews in Surfside, Florida will continue to work through the night Friday to search for victims of the deadly partial condo collapse — as 159 people still remain unaccounted for, officials said.
The rescuers “have hope” and “continue to believe that there are people they can reach,” amid the rubble, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said at an evening press conference.
“We are working around the clock to find people and bring them out safely because that what our rescue team tells us they are doing,” Levine Cava said.
“They have hope, and we’re standing with them. They are working tirelessly. They are passionate about this. They are dedicated to finding people in the rubble.”
Levine Cava attempted to explain her optimism after a long day of increasingly desperate efforts that saw no other survivors rescued.
“People have been discovered in rubble over a week after the date of incident,” she said.
“God willing there will be some good news later tonight or in the morning.”
On the second day of the rescue and recovery mission, internationally-recognized South Florida emergency workers were joined by a task force from Mexico, three state task forces and workers from Israel, officials said.
Workers continued to use dogs, sonar, and video equipment to detect any signs of life as they removed debris from the structure, which “pancaked” and collapsed into a smoldering heap of twisted metal and concrete on Thursday morning, killing at least four people.
Rescuers are also trying to extinguish a “deeply rooted fire” under the structure, as hard to reach smoldering materials filled the seaside community with smoke at times Friday, fire officials said.
In the first hours after the collapse, emergency crews used cherry pickers and ladders to evacuate at least 35 people from the structure’s still-intact areas.
At a nearby reunification center, family members of missing residents were fed and sheltered, and prayer services were held as the Jewish Sabbath began in the heavily Orthodox community.
Many people waited at the center for results of DNA swabs that could help identify victims.
“We are here working, praying and still hopeful,” Levine Cava said.
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