SURFSIDE, Fla. - Police and firefighters in South Florida honored the victims of the Surfside condo collapse by shining and flashing lights on the night of the Fourth of July, hours before a portion of the building still standing was demolished.
The Miami Beach Police Department shared a video on Instagram showing personnel holding lights up in remembrance of those who died and the many others who remain missing.
The death toll stands at 27 people and more than 115 people are unaccounted for, authorities said Monday. No one has been rescued alive since the first hours after the collapse at the Champlain Towers South on June 24, but officials have pledged to keep looking despite the dwindling chance of finding survivors.
In the Instagram post, police said the city of Miami Beach encouraged everyone "to shine a light paying tribute to all of the Surfside victims, their families and first responders involved in this national tragedy."
Miami Beach Police hold lights up in honor of the victims of the Surfside condo collapse on July 4, 2021. (Credit: Storyful via Miami Beach Police)
The Miami Beach Fire Department also shared several videos on Twitter showing firefighters paying tribute to the victims of the collapse by flashing engine lights and the lights of rescue boats.
The fire department said they were shining lights "for those who cannot."
Search efforts resumed earlier Monday at the site in Surfside, located just north of Miami Beach, after the last part of the building that was still standing was torn down on Sunday night. The demolition of the rest of the structure allowed rescuers to possibly gain access to new areas of the rubble, officials said.
Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava expressed relief that the search for victims can now continue, after being suspended on Saturday so workers could begin rigging the damaged but still-upright portion of the tower with explosives — a precarious operation that could have caused the structure to fail.
"I feel relief because this building was unstable. The building was hampering our search efforts," Levine Cava said.
Rescuers hoped the demolition would open access to parts of the garage area. Once a new pathway into the initial rubble is secure, "we will go back to the debris pile, and we’ll begin our search and rescue efforts," Miami-Dade Fire Chief Albert Cominsky said at a press conference several hours before the remaining wing of the residential high rise came tumbling down.
The cause of the collapse of the Champlain, which was built in 1981, remains under investigation. A 2018 engineering report found that the building's ground-floor pool deck was resting on a concrete slab that had "major structural damage" and needed extensive repairs. The report also found "abundant cracking" of concrete columns, beams and walls in the parking garage.
Just two months before the building came down, the president of its board wrote a letter to residents saying that structural problems identified in the 2018 inspection had "gotten significantly worse" and that major repairs would cost at least $15.5 million. With bids for the work still pending, the building suddenly collapsed.
This story was reported from Cincinnati. The Associated Press contributed.