“You must have hope. I was in Haiti and we pulled out a girl after seven days. You must have hope. We are doing our best to get their relatives out of there alive,” said the chief of rescuers from the Miami Fire Department. Andy Alvarez, as she struggled to hold back her tears and led the rescue team of 270 people, who, since the early hours of Thursday, June 24, had been searching for survivors among the ruins of the south tower of the Champlain Towers complex, in the town of Surfside.
(In the context of: Miami between hope and despair after the collapse of the building)
Alvarez promised dozens of people gathered in front of the community center at the place where the “unification center” for the disaster he caused, “we will stay here until we need it.” The collapse of the 12-storey building.
On Thursday, the job was heartbreaking, but possible. Rescuers were divided into four-hour shifts and in two important areas: the mountain where 55 flats were destroyed and the still standing part of the car park, which is at sea level. Those who were outside had the heaviest physical labor.
(of interest: Building collapse in Florida looks like an earthquake)
With the dogs trained to spot survivors, many of them Labrador’s, often moving stones with their bare hands, they made sure to carefully remove debris. The tasks of the second group were less difficult but more dangerous. The area where all the occupants’ cars had been left flooded. Entrusted with luck, they were tasked with supporting what was left of the structure and opening tunnels in the hopes of finding air pockets where someone might be trapped.
Three days later, they found no one alive after the first three in the early hours of Thursday. Rescuers have been facing continuous rain since Friday, sometimes accompanied by severe lightning and thunder. Nothing out of the ordinary this time of year, but there’s a big complication, OK By law, they must stop all outdoor activities if there is the possibility of lightning within at least eight miles (12.8 km) away. After each lightning strike you have to wait for half an hour.
As if that weren’t enough, since Friday morning there’s been a fire in the ruins.
“You can see that the flames have spread and are seen in different areas,” Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniela Levine Cava said. “We are doing our best to find out where the fire started and fix the problem so we can continue our search, but as of now we don’t know where it is. We are using infrared detection systems (which read temperatures), water and foam. All known methods to contain fire and smoke. We have used machines Heavy duty to open a trench to try to isolate the flames and continue the rescue missions, but so far nothing has changed.”
Nothing has changed that does not just describe what happens to the fire. It also includes the most painful part of the disaster. Since Friday morning, the numbers have remained the same: 159 missing, 127 confirmed alive and four dead.
Help comes from different places
Few know how difficult this kind of work can be like Los Tobos, the Mexican search and rescue team, famous for their heroic work during the earthquakes that shook their country. A squad arrived in Miami last night. Experts from the rest of the country have also traveled and more international aid is expected. And that is, Miami-Dade Fire Department rescue units, the South Florida Urban Search and Rescue Team, and those who joined from nearby cities and counties are already exhausted.
Initial shifts were reduced to 15 minutes yesterday, as the risk to everyone increased. People outside now suffer from the effects of the foul odor, which at the site has been associated with tar and is considered toxic. In addition, debris is more slippery than rain. Those under the building know that with every passing minute the structure is growing weaker and weaker.
In addition to physical assistance, moral assistance arrived. The Legendaries, a group of religious men focused on prayer, arrive at the site of the disaster to pray with the saviors and for the success of their mission.
Despite the fact that even in the English language they began to translate the phrase “hope is the last thing to lose”, families lose the illusion that their loved ones are still alive. “At this point, what we are waiting for is a miracle,” said Colombian Adriana Lafont, who lost her ex-husband and father of her two children, Manuel Lafont. However, families call “angels” those who risk their lives to find their relatives.