The number of confirmed deaths in the collapse of a condominium building in Surfside, Florida, climbed to 97, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava announced late Wednesday.
Ninety victims have been identified and 88 families have been notified, Levine Cava added. At least a dozen people remain unaccounted for as the recovery operation continues.
“Please continue to keep all those who mourn in your hearts & prayers,” Levine Cava said in a tweet Wednesday.
Earlier that day, a Florida judge approved the sale of the site where the Champlain Towers South once stood before it collapsed in the early morning hours of June 24, NBC 6 South Florida reported Wednesday.
Proceeds are intended to benefit hundreds of victims of the disaster, with the sale expected to yield $100 million to $110 million, according to court records acquired by NBC 6 South Florida.
First responders have entered their third week of a painstaking search for more bodies in the rubble of the collapse.
Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett on Tuesday announced that the recovery operation was moving toward completion, a week after he said that the possibility of finding someone alive from the collapse was “near zero.” Authorities hope to conclude their efforts in the coming weeks.
“Twenty days after this unthinkable tragedy, I could not be prouder of the extraordinary efforts of our partners at every level — local or state or federal partners — they stepped up in so many ways to respond,” Levine Cava said at a press conference Tuesday.
“And they have been the core for the families’ recovery, they’ve continued to provide care to the families and the survivors,” she said.
Authorities are continuing to investigate the cause of the collapse of Champlain Towers South.
Teams from the National Institute of Standards and Technology are conducting tests on pieces of concrete from the site and evaluating the structure’s remains to identify what factors may have contributed to the disaster.
A 2018 report indicated that the condominium had major structural issues, with waterproofing issues beneath the pool and cracking in the underground parking garage. Experts have also said that the repeal of a Florida law in 2010 that required condominium buildings to plan for repairs could have been another factor.
The collapse has also prompted evaluations of other buildings in Miami-Dade county.
Burkett said Monday that inspections of Champlain Towers North, the identical sister property of the collapsed condominium building, have brought positive results. Recent tests indicate that the concrete strength is “very good.”
Inspection results for a Miami Beach apartment building, however, were not so positive.
Authorities evacuated the 82-year-old apartment building Monday due to concrete deterioration, NBC News reported Monday.