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Search for bodies at site of Florida condo collapse concludes with one still missing

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 7/25/2021 Jeanine Santucci, USA TODAY
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The search for bodies at the site of the Surfside, Florida, condo collapse has come to an end, with firefighters and search crews recognized at a ceremony on Friday.

The June 24 collapse killed 97 people – 96 bodies were pulled from the debris and one died at a hospital after being removed – and one person who is missing has still not been identified among the remains.

Officials said no more bodies were found in the rubble, but investigators  were still sifting through the debris where it is now housed in separate locations. Aside from the initial hours of searching after the building collapsed, no more people were found alive. 

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Estelle Hedaya, 54, who is believed to be the last victim, remained unaccounted for, though officials have not specified whether a remaining body had been found or or whether it was awaiting DNA testing. Hedaya would bring the death toll to 98.

"As we enter month two alone, without any other families, we feel helpless," Hedaya's brother, Ikey Hedaya, told The Associated Press.


Video: Search for bodies concludes at Florida condo collapse site (Associated Press)

On Friday, Miami-Dade Fire Chief Alan Cominsky recognized the grueling work of the firefighters who have worked in 12-hour shifts in the past four weeks. Search crews struggled through Florida's heat and thunderstorms and fire within the building.

“It’s obviously devastating. It’s obviously a difficult situation across the board,” Cominsky said. “I couldn’t be prouder of the men and women that represent Miami-Dade Fire Rescue.”

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Rescue teams departed the site in a procession of firetrucks and other vehicles and made their way to Fire Rescue headquarters, where they announced in a news conference that the search had ended.

"Providing closure to families was the ultimate test of everybody here, and I think we did our best to do that," said Scott Dean, leader of one of the task forces charged with search, rescue and recovery.

“It was extremely grueling,” task force member Nichole Notte told local Miami station WPLG. “Especially having a baby at home and seeing the things that we have seen, it’s hard. It’s harder. It’s personal.”

Contributing: The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Search for bodies at site of Florida condo collapse concludes with one still missing

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