4 more victims recovered in rubble, including 7-year-old daughter of Miami firefighter

The death toll in the Surfside condo collapse has risen to 22 after four more victims were recovered from the rubble overnight and during the day Friday, including the 7-year-old daughter of a city of Miami firefighter, according to officials who spoke during press conferences about the search and rescue efforts.

"We can confirm that a member of our City of Miami Fire Department family has lost his 7-year-old daughter in the collapse," City of Miami Fire Chief Joseph Zahralban said in a statement. "She was recovered last night by members of our Urban Search and Rescue Team, Florida Task Force 2."

WPLG reports that rescuers brought the young girl's body down from the pile, where her father draped his jacket over her body and then placed a small American flag on her gurney, according to a first responder at the scene who did not want to be identified.

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Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said 190 people have now been accounted for, and 126 people remain unaccounted for. No one has been rescued since the first hours after the collapse of the 12-story Champlain Towers South condominium.

The Miami-Dade mayor also has signed an emergency order to demolish the remaining part of the building once engineers have signed off on it. She said the order was signed now so that the demolition can move quickly once a date is set.

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Meanwhile, the chief of Miami-Dade Fire Rescue said six members of a team that came from outside the county to help with the efforts tested positive for COVID-19.

He said proper protocols were being followed and that the task force had been demobilized.

On Friday morning, about a dozen workers could be seen digging through the pile that now reached about 20 feet, more than 10 feet less than it was a week ago. Cranes were again lifting heavy objects from the pile and then workers would climb into the pile and begin removing smaller rubble by hand.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said the decision about the demolition needs to be made "extremely carefully and methodically," considering the potential impact on the pile of debris and the effect on the search.

Crews had resumed their search efforts of the site of the Surfside condo collapse Thursday evening after the operation was suspended for most of the day due to concerns about the rest of the structure possibly falling.

The rescue work had been halted after crews noticed widening cracks and up to a foot of movement in a large column. Task force leaders met with FEMA and came up with a plan to safely resume digging.

RELATED: Surfside condo collapse search resumes after being 'temporarily halted' due to structure stability concerns

On Thursday afternoon, after receiving a command briefing, President Joe Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden met with grieving families and first responders, which includes Task Force 3, made up of crews from Hillsborough County Fire Rescue, the city of Tampa, and St. Petersburg.

"It's just hard as hell to deal with, even psychologically, and I just wanted to say thank you," he said Thursday during the visit. "Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you."

Officials said the county’s structural engineer assessed the remaining condo tower and does not believe it poses a risk to search-and-rescue teams. 

Florida officials are working on plans to tear down what’s left of a partially collapsed oceanfront condominium building after concerns about the structure’s instability prompted a 15-hour halt to the search for survivors.

After rescue efforts resumed Thursday evening, officials said they had started planning for the likely demolition of the remaining structure even as searchers continue to comb the rubble pile beneath it.


President Joe Biden alongside Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (L) speaking about the collapse of the 12-story Champlain Towers South condo building in Surfside, during a briefing in Miami Beach, on July 1, 2021. (Photo by SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images)

MORE: Biden says feds will 'pick up 100% of the cost' for first 30 days of Surfside search and rescue efforts

Scott Nacheman, a FEMA structures specialist, said engineers are looking at different methods for the demolition and how to proceed "to make the site safe for ongoing rescue operations."

Nacheman said that if the building comes down, there initially will be a slowdown in the rescue operation. But he said the demolition of the structure would create a safer working environment that could allow more personnel on the site and accelerate the pace of the work.

He said it would likely be weeks before officials schedule the demolition.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said the decision about the demolition needs to be made "extremely carefully and methodically," considering the potential impact on the pile of debris and the effect on the search.

No one has been rescued since the first hours after the collapse.

"This is life and death," Biden said during a briefing. "We can do it, just the simple act of everyone doing what needs to be done, makes a difference."

"There’s gonna be a lot of pain and anxiety and suffering and even the need for psychological help in the days and months that follow," he said. "And so, we’re not going anywhere."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.