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Death toll in collapsed Florida condo tower rises to 18

By
Zarrin Ahmed & Daniel Uria
The death toll from last week's collapse of a condominium tower near Miami has risen by six, to 18, authorities said Wednesday. Photo by Gary I Rothstein/UPI
The death toll from last week's collapse of a condominium tower near Miami has risen by six, to 18, authorities said Wednesday. Photo by Gary I Rothstein/UPI | License Photo

June 30 (UPI) -- The death toll from last week's collapse of a condominium tower near Miami has risen to 18, authorities said Wednesday.

During a news conference on Wednesday afternoon, officials said two more bodies were found, after announcing earlier in the day that the remains of four other people were found overnight. The total number of deaths from the collapse is now 18, they told reporters.

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Two of the victims identified Thursday were sisters Emma Guara and Lucia Guara, aged 4 and 10.

"Any loss of life, especially given the nature of this event is a tragedy, but the loss of our children is a grief too great to bear," said Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava.

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Also among the new victims were 92-year-old Hilda Noriega, mother of North Bay Village Police Chief Carlos Noriega, as well as 42-year-old Anaely Rodriguez and 21-year-old Andreas Giannitsopoulos, the Sun-Sentinel reported.

Search crews have been continually searching debris from the wing of the Champlain Towers South building that collapsed almost a week ago. Officials say close to 150 people are still unaccounted for and 139 have been accounted for.

Members of the Israeli Defense Forces' Home Front Command were helping rescue crews sift through debris on Wednesday.

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RELATED Death toll from Florida condo collapse rises to 11 as rescuers search debris

"While there's an overwhelming amount of grief, there's still the apprehension about not knowing for sure," Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said. "Rest assured those [rescuers] are going to be working on that pile and it's not going to stop."

Investigators are still searching for a cause of the collapse.

The city of Surfside has said local engineers found structural damage to the condo building in 2018, including evidence of flooding, cracking and corrosion. The building was built in 1981.

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President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden are scheduled to visit the site of the collapse on Thursday. Surfside is about 3 miles north of Miami Beach and 10 miles northeast of downtown Miami.

Miami-Dade Police Director Freddy Ramirez said he believes the Bidens' visit will help to increase morale in the community.

"We've had several challenges from weather, sorrow, pain," said Ramirez. "And I think that the president coming will bring some unity here for our community, support, like our governor, our mayor, all of us together."

RELATED Deaths rise to 4 in Surfside condo collapse as crews keep searching for survivors

Scenes from Surfside, Fla., condo collapse

Mourners stop to pay respects to the missing victims at the memorial outside St. Joseph Catholic Church near the collapsed Champlain Towers condo in Surfside, Fla., on Wednesday. Photo by Gary I Rothstein/UPI | License Photo

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