Death toll in Florida building collapse rises to 5 as one more body found

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A fifth body was pulled from the rubble of the partially collapsed condo in Surfside, Florida, Saturday — as officials hold out hope that survivors can still be rescued from the debris nearly three days after the disaster.

Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava announced the new death toll during an evening news briefing, adding that rescue crews had also found other unspecified human remains during their day’s search.

Authorities also identified the bodies of three of the victims using DNA testing, dropping the number of unaccounted for down to 156. Their identities are not being released to protect the privacy of their families, Levine Cava said.

Crews continued to work around the clock scouring for survivors, using canines and sonar tech to sweep the debris pile.

“Our top priority continues to be search and rescue, and saving any lives that we can,” Levine Cava said.

“Our brave firefighters are telling us that’s the right thing to do, and we stand with them.”

Officials said the remains they find are being sent to the Miami-Dade medical examiner. Authorities are also collecting DNA samples from family members to help identify them.

The first victim of the collapse was identified on Friday as 54-year-old Stacie Fang, according to the Miami-Dade medical examiner.

The Champlain Towers South had a large number of foreign nationals, and family members are being rushed to the area to provide DNA to expedite rapid testing, officials said.

“My office in conjunction with other congressional offices has been responsible for helping to obtain visas, very quickly for a lot of people who need to travel here,” explained Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla).

“My understanding is that most of them are either here now or are in route,” Rubio added.

Rubio praised the federal response and said FEMA and the State Department were on site helping victims and family members.

“Unlike other disaster situations, in this situation, all victims that have been impacted by this are going to be registered through the family center that’s located here,” Rubio said, as a heavy rain began to fall.

“They will then be channeled towards FEMA to determine… what services they are eligible for from the federal government.”

Residents of the 12-story building’s sister tower, Champlain Towers North, will also be given financial assistance if they choose to relocate while local inspectors do a “deep dive” to assess the building’s stability. No evacuation orders had been given, officials said.

“Given that we can not determine what made Champlain South fall down, it’s understandable that they are nervous,” Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said.

Although more than 48 hours had passed since the last survivor was pulled from the rubble, officials remained hopeful Saturday evening.

“We’re going to continue searching, hopefully with a positive outcome,” Miami-Dade Fire Chief Alan Cominsky said.

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