Surfside Death Toll Now at 32, Rescuers Also Discovering Human Remains in Rubble

The death toll in Surfside, Florida, following the collapse of a condominium building is now at 32 as four more victims were found, according to Miami-Dade Assistant Fire Chief Raide Jadallah.

Jadallah said rescuers are discovering human remains in the rubble during a briefing Tuesday. Rescue crews are on their 13th day searching and Miami-Dade Fire Chief Alan Cominsky said there were no new signs of survivors.

"We're actively searching as aggressively as we can," Cominsky said amid Tropical Storm Elsa that caused rescuers to work through rain and high winds. Jadallah said lightning forced crews to stop their search for two hours early Thursday.

The Champlain Towers South building collapsed June 24 and up to 113 people are still unaccounted for according to Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava.

No one has been found alive in the rubble since the first hours following the building's collapse, according to the Associated Press.

Surfside Building Death Toll at 32
The death toll in Surfside, Florida, following the Champlain Towers South condominium collapse is now at 32. In this photo, after a brief stop to demolish the standing debris, search and rescue personnel continue to work in the rain on the rubble pile of the 12-story condo that partially collapsed on July 5. AFP via Getty Images/Giorgio Viera

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below:

A ramped-up search effort Tuesday faced new threats from severe weather with Tropical Storm Elsa.

Stiff winds of 20 mph with stronger gusts hampered efforts to move heavy debris with cranes, officials said at a morning news conference.

"Active search and rescue continued throughout the night, and these teams continue through extremely adverse and challenging conditions," Cava told reporters. "Through the rain and through the wind they have continued searching."

Only 70 of 113 unaccounted for are confirmed to have been inside the Champlain Towers South building in Surfside when it collapsed in the early morning hours of June 24, she said.

At the disaster site Tuesday morning, power saws and backhoes could be heard as workers in yellow helmets and blue jumpsuits searched the rubble for a 13th day. Gray clouds from Elsa's outer bands swirled above.

The storm's worst weather was expected to bypass Surfside and neighboring Miami as Elsa strengthened before making landfall somewhere between Tampa Bay and Florida's Big Bend and crossing northern Florida. Heavy rain from the storm was still possible.

Search crews can work through rain, but lightning from unrelated thunderstorms has forced them to pause at times, and a garage area in the rubble has filled with water, officials said.

Crews have removed 124 tons of debris from the collapse site.

"We are not seeing anything positive," Cominsky said.

Workers have been freed to search a broader area since the unstable remaining portion of the condo building was demolished Sunday amid fears that the structure could fall. Officials said the demolition gave rescuers access to previously inaccessible places, including bedrooms where people were believed to be sleeping at the time of the disaster.

While officials are still calling their efforts a search and rescue operation, Cava said families of those still missing are preparing for news of "tragic loss."

"I think everybody will be ready when it's time to move to the next phase," the mayor said.

Update 7/6/2021 1:03 p.m.: This story has been updated to include more information on the search and rescue efforts.

Collapsed Surfside Condo Rescue Effort Continues
Technically, officials are still calling the Surfside effort s a search and rescue operation. Rescue workers handle a tarp containing recovered remains at the site of the collapsed Champlain Towers South condo building, Monday, July 5, in Surfside, Florida. AP Photo/Lynne Sladky