Condo collapse: Death toll at 18, more than 140 missing. Rescue efforts resume. Tropical Storm Elsa being monitored
After a week of non-stop search and recue efforts at the Champlain Towers South condo in Surfside, the number of dead took on an even more sobering tone when it was announced that two of the six bodies recovered Wednesday were children, aged four and 10. This brings the death toll to 18, with 147 still unaccounted for.
President Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden will met with the victims' families and first responders. It is Biden's first trip to Florida since he was elected president.
Families worried about delays, and rescue and recovery teams, are keeping a close eye on Tropical Storm Elsa, which formed overnight. Elsa’s last distance to Surfside was 2,344 miles.
Here's what we know.
Search and rescue efforts resume
Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said search and rescue efforts resumed at about 4:45 p.m. Thursday. Officials said safety mitigation measures were in place and the teams would be searching three of the nine grids.
Efforts had been halted for about 14 hours due to structural concerns. The structural integrity of a section of the building still standing was in question and caused rescue teams to cease operating at about 2:15 a.m. Thursday. Miami-Dade County's mayor said engineers are working on a way to potentially demolish the remaining portion of the building, while allowing for the search to continue.
The Mayor also commended President Biden for spending almost 3 hours visiting with families and rescuers.
Officials said they are closely monitoring Tropical Storm Elsa.
Check back for updates.
President Biden in Surfside
President Joe Biden, reprising his role as comforter-in-chief, highlighted Thursday the “life and death” situation that has brought together all levels of the government as he visits a south Florida community reeling from the collapse of a 12-story condo building that left 18 people dead and dozens missing.
“We’ve come together,” Biden said, as Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis sat to the right of the president, and Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava sat to the left. Republican Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott sat across from the president. “This is life and death.”
Biden, with the first lady by his side, met with roughly 50 first responders in a ballroom at the St. Regis.
Consoler-in-chief:5 things to watch as President Biden meets with victims' families
A family reunited in death
Miami-Dade police asked for prayers when they identified four additional victims Wednesday evening. Three of them were the wife and daughters of Marcus Guara, whose remains were recovered June 26 and identified Monday. Anaely Rodriguez, 42, was identified, along with her daughters Lucia Guara, 10, and Emma Guara, 4. Also identified was 21-year-old Andreas Giannitsopoulos.
[ Scroll down for an obituary on Marcus Guara ]
A 12-year-old's tale
Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett has referenced the story of Ellie Shella two times during news briefings. The 12-year-old's father and uncle died in the condo devastation.
Burkett said he noticed her at the site: "When I came across her, she was sitting in a chair by herself with nobody around her, looking at her phone. She was reading a Jewish prayer, to herself, sitting at the site by where one of her parents presumably is."
That really brought it home to me," he said. "She wasn't crying, she was just lost."
Ellie's father was the provider for the family, and now the family has lost that safety net.
"(Her) mother is suffering some financial distress, given that the father was paying the bills and now those funds were not available."
Ellie is one of many survivors of the Champlain Towers Collapse. Like many, she simply was not in the building that night. That night, she stayed with her mother -- and it may have saved her life.
Condo collapse survivor:She lost her father and uncle. Family now struggles with trauma, finances
Tropical Storm Elsa
Tropical Storm Elsa formed Thursday morning as the system moved quickly toward the Caribbean.
The National Hurricane Center's cone of uncertainty puts all of South Florida in the storm's path. While it is too soon to determine what, if any, impacts could occur in Florida next week, all residents are encouraged to monitor the storm and make preparations.
AccuWeather meteorologists are concerned that Elsa could strengthen quickly into a hurricane as it approaches the Windward Islands.
Elsa became the earliest E storm on record, beating out Edouard, which formed July 6, 2020. Elsa is the fifth tropical storm of the season in the Atlantic.
What's the latest on the condo collapse in Surfside, Florida?
As of Wednesday night, the death toll rose to 18 with still more than 140 people missing.
The bodies of 18 people have been recovered. Rescue workers continue to sift through the rubble and listen for signs of life.
One of the people identified Wednesday was Hilda Noriega, mother of North Bay Village police Chief Carlos Noriega.
Red flags at the Florida condo building:A visual investigation of events leading up to disaster
What do we know about the Surfside victims?
Of the 18 people who have died, 12 have been identified by authorities. They are:
• Anaely Rodriguez, 42, mother of two. Her remains were uncovered June 30.
• Lucia Gaura, 10, and her sister Emma Guara, 4. They were recovered June 30.
• Frank Kleiman, 55. His body was recovered on June 28.
• Michael Davis Altman, 50. His body was recovered on June 28.
• Luis Bermudez, 26. His body was recovered on June 26.
• Anna Ortiz, 46. Her body was recovered on June 26.
We will update this list as we hear more.
How many are still missing?
As of Wednesday night, the number of missing people from the condo collapse was 147.
Is it still search and rescue?
A week after the condo collapse, families cling to fading hope. Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said that many have asked him when efforts will turn from a rescue to a recovery mission.
"We're not leaving anybody behind," Burkett said. "This is going to go until we pull everyone out of there."
Families have also expressed frustration over possible severe weather in the coming days that may cause further delays.
Rescue and recovery teams are keeping a close eye on two tropical waves in the Atlantic Ocean. While one is not expected to develop into anything substantial, forecasters at the National Hurricane Center said the other one will become Tropical Storm Elsa within the next day or so.
Rescue teams keep watchful eye:on the Atlantic; one system is forecast to become Tropical Storm Elsa
Contributing: Cheryl McCloud and Ginny Beagan, USA TODAY Network-Florida; Jesse Mendoza, Herald-Tribune; Katherine Lewin, Florida Times-Union, USA TODAY