Review of Surfside Condominium's Missing List Removes 17 Names, List Now 128 People

The number of people missing in the Surfside condominium collapse went down from 145 to 128 Friday after some missing people turned up safe and duplicate names were removed from the list, officials announced.

Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said a review by authorities found that the missing count was higher than reality because individuals had been moved to the "accounted for" list when whole families were found safe. In other cases, people had reported both English and Hebrew names for the same person, leading to duplicates.

Search and rescue efforts have also uncovered two more bodies, bringing the death count up to 20. One of the new confirmed deaths was a Miami firefighter's 7-year old daughter, who Miami Mayor Francis called "a member of our fire family."

Levina Cava said uncovering the girl's body was "more difficult for our first responders."

"These men and women are paying an enormous human toll each and every day, and I ask that all of you please keep them in your thoughts and prayers," she said during a news conference.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below:

Surfside Missing Count
A crane is used to remove sets of human remains, as search and rescue personnel work atop the rubble at the Champlain Towers South condo building, where scores of people remain missing more than a week after it partially collapsed, Friday, in Surfside, Florida. Mark Humphrey/AP Photo

Friday's announcements came a day after officials said they were working on plans to tear down what's left of the building after concerns about the structure's instability prompted a 15-hour halt to the search for survivors.

Scott Nacheman, a FEMA structures specialist, said the demolition would trigger a slowdown in the rescue operation, but it 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.

No one has been rescued since the first hours after the collapse of the 12-story Champlain Towers South condominium.

On Friday morning, about a dozen workers could be seen digging through the pile that now reached about 20 feet (6 meters), more than 10 feet (3 meters) 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.

The rescue work was halted early Thursday after crews noticed widening cracks and up to a foot of movement in a large column.

Work resumed shortly before 5 p.m. after the site was evaluated by structural engineers, Cava said, describing firefighters as "really, really excited out there."

"We will continue to search feverishly, as we have done all along in the parts of the collapse that we currently have access to," she said.

The work stoppage had threatened to dim hopes for finding anyone alive in the debris a week after the tower came down. Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said the halt was worrisome since "minutes and hours matter, lives are at stake."

The cause of the collapse is under investigation. A 2018 engineering report found 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 last Thursday.

Surfside Flower Memorial
A volunteer replaces wilted flowers with fresh ones at a makeshift memorial to the scores of victims of a partial collapse at the Champlain Towers South condo building, Thursday in Surfside, Florida. Gerald Herbert/AP Photo