Rescue workers digging feverishly for a sixth day stressed that they could still find survivors in the rubble of a collapsed Florida condo building, as an explanation for what caused the disaster sparks a debate.
Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava told reporters on Monday that the confirmed death toll had risen to 11 after the high-rise partially collapsed last week in Surfside, near Miami, while 150 people remained unaccounted for.
Levine Cava said earlier in the day that authorities would conduct a full and thorough investigation to “get to the bottom of what happened here”.
“Right now our top priority is search and rescue and find the people,” she said during a news conference.
The families of those missing rode buses to a site close enough to watch the intense rescue effort, which includes firefighters, sniffer dogs and search experts employing radar and sonar devices.
Early on Monday, a crane lifted a large slab of concrete from the debris pile, enabling about 30 rescuers in hard hats to move in and carry smaller pieces of debris into red buckets, which are emptied into a larger bin for a crane to remove.
The work has been complicated by intermittent rain showers moving through the area, but at least the fires that hampered the initial search have been extinguished.
Andy Alvarez, a deputy incident commander with Miami-Dade Fire Rescue, told ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Monday that rescuers have been able to find some voids inside the wreckage, mostly in the basement and parking garage areas.
“We have over 80 rescuers at a time that are breaching the walls that collapsed, in a frantic effort to try to rescue those that are still viable and to get to those voids that we typically know exist in these buildings,” Alvarez said.
“We have been able to tunnel through the building,” Alvarez added. “This is a frantic search to seek that hope, that miracle, to see who we can bring out of this building alive.”