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Florida condo collapse: Death toll rises to 22, officials eye hurricane

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

July 2 (UPI) -- The recovery of two bodies Friday brought the death toll from a collapsed seaside condo in South Florida to 22, local authorities announced.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava declined to offer details on the two recoveries on the ninth day of search efforts.

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Among those recovered overnight Thursday were the remains of the 7-year-old daughter of a member of City of Miami Fire-Rescue. Chief Joseph Zahralban said fellow members of the department's urban search and rescue team found her remains Thursday night.

The girl's father wasn't involved in search efforts, and firefighters called him over to the scene after they found her, Miami-Dade County Fire Chief Alan Cominsky told reporters, according to CNN.

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"When we come across an individual, you know, obviously we pay our respect, we have a process," he said.

Details about the second body recovered Thursday night weren't revealed, The Miami Herald reported.

A portion of Champlain Towers South collapsed June 24 in Surfside, Fla., just north of Miami. The number of those still unaccounted for has been reduced to 128.

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Recovery efforts halted temporarily Thursday after officials became concerned that the rubble and remaining standing portion of the condo were unstable. They resumed later in the evening, but local officials were keeping an eye to the south, where Hurricane Elsa has formed and is forecast to make landfall in South Florida early next week.

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Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett suggested demolishing the rest of the standing building before the storm arrives.

"I think it would be better ... to push it in the direction we want as opposed to the storm demolishes it and pushes it in a direction we don't want," he told reporters Friday.

Levine Cava, though, told the Herald that she's been advised that such a timeframe for demolition isn't possible.

"We are proceeding quickly, but we cannot bring that building down without a very, very careful demolition plan," she said.

In an afternoon news conference, she said she signed an order authorizing the demolition of the building, though she didn't reveal a timeline.

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