Watch: Remaining Surfside Condo Building Demolished Ahead Of Tropical Storm

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Ten days after the condo building in Surfside, FLA. collapsed, search-and-rescue efforts have been suspended as officials demo the rest of the building ahead of Tropical Storm Elsa.

10:30 ET Sunday, the remaining portion of the Champlain Towers South condo building in Surfside, FLA., was demolished ahead of Tropical Storm Elsa’s arrival late Monday night into Tuesday.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava told CNN during a Sunday night press conference that once the area is safe, search and rescue teams will resume.

As of Sunday, the death toll sits at 24, according to the mayor. At least 191 people have been accounted for, but 121 remain missing.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said, “We have a building here in Surfside that is tottering, it is structurally unsound. If the building is taken down this will protect our search and rescue teams.”

“If the building is taken down, this will protect our search and rescue teams, because we don’t know when it could fall over,” DeSantis said. “And, of course, with these gusts, potentially that would create a really severe hazard.”

Cava also declared a local state of emergency as Elsa moved west-northwest at 14 mph with maximum sustained winds of 65 mph. The storm’s center is about 85 mph east of Kingston, Jamaica.

There remains a lot of uncertainty about the storm’s trajectory after it tracks across central and western Cuba on Monday, then moves near the west coast of Florida on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Local and state officials are taking no chances and are set to demolish the remaining portion of the condo building before the storm hits.

As of Sunday, the death toll sits at 24, according to the mayor. At least 191 people have been accounted for, but 121 remain missing.

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A pile of debris is seen above on the morning after the controlled demolition in Surfside on Monday
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A pile of debris is seen above on the morning after the controlled demolition in Surfside on Monday

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Meteorologists predict the eye of the storm, which was downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm, won't directly hit the area, but Surfside and the surrounding municipalities could feel the brunt of strong wind gusts.
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Meteorologists predict the eye of the storm, which was downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm, won’t directly hit the area, but Surfside and the surrounding municipalities could feel the brunt of strong wind gusts.

THE MIAMI CONDO COLLAPSE VICTIMS IDENTIFIED SO FAR

TACIE DAWN FANG

Stacie Dawn Fang, 54, was with her son Jonah Handler, a teenager, when the building collapsed. They lived on the tenth floor. The boy’s small hand waved through the wreckage as a man out walking his dog hurried to the site, climbed through a pile of glass and rebar and promised to get help right away.

Rescuers helped the boy out from under a pile of cement and carried him away on a stretcher to a hospital.

‘There are no words to describe the tragic loss of our beloved Stacie,’ members of her family said in a statement. ‘Many heartfelt words of encouragement and love have served as a much needed source of strength during this devastating time.’

Asked about the boy’s condition, a family friend, Lisa Mozloom told the AP ‘He will be fine. He’s a miracle.’

MANUEL LAFONT

Manuel LaFont, 54
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Manuel LaFont, 54

Manuel LaFont, 54, was a proud father, a baseball fan and a business consultant who lived on the building’s eighth floor.

He had a 10-year-old son and 13-year-old daughter with his ex-wife Adriana LaFont, the Miami Herald reported.

Adriana asked her friends on Facebook to pray the rosary for Manny before his body was found. ‘So many memories inside the walls that are no more today, forever engraved experiences in the heart,’ she wrote.

LaFont, a Houston native, coached his son’s baseball team, the Astros, at North Shore Park, just a mile away from the Champlain. He was a parishioner at St. Patrick Catholic Church in Miami Beach. The parish’s school parents gathered Saturday afternoon to pray for LaFont and his neighbors who were still missing.

An alumnus of Sharpstown High School in Houston, LaFont had worked across Latin America and the Caribbean for a manufacturing firm, leading a division focusing on roadway safety that built crash cushions and moveable barriers, the Herald reported.

‘I got into this industry specifically because I don’t want to sell widgets. I want to help people. I want to do something good in this world,’ he said at an industry conference in 2016. ‘When I die, I want to say that my life meant something.’

ANTONIO AND GLADYS LOZANO

Antonio and Gladys Lozano
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Antonio and Gladys Lozano

Antonio and Gladys Lozano lived on the ninth floor. The two had known each other over 60 years and would have celebrated their 59th wedding anniversary on July 21.

Their sons told WPLG-TV that the couple had joked neither wanted to die before the other, because neither wanted to live without the other. Their one solace, the brothers said, was that they were together when they died.

Authorities confirmed on Saturday that Antonio, 83, and Gladys, 79, were among the dead.

Sergio Lozano said he had dinner with his parents hours before the collapse. He lived in one of the towers of the complex and could see his parents’ apartment across the way from his. That night, he said the heard a loud noise they thought could be a storm.

‘The building is not there,’ he said he told his wife. ‘My parents’ apartment is not there. It’s gone.’

ANA ORTIZ, HER HUSBAND FRANK AND HER SON LUIZ

Ana Ortiz, left, and her son Luis Bermudez
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Ana Ortiz, left, and her son Luis Bermudez and Leon Oliwkowicz and his wife Christina (right)

Luis Bermudez, of San Juan, Puerto Rico, had battled with muscular dystrophy for years and used a wheelchair. The 26-year-old man lived with his mother Ana Ortiz on the seventh floor of the Champlain Towers South.

His father, also named Luis Bermudez, texted the AP saying ‘my son is a hero.’ He also wrote on Facebook that he could not believe he’s gone.

‘Now rest in peace and without any obstacles in heaven,’ he wrote. ‘I will see you soon my Luiyo.’

Ortiz, 46, had just gotten married with Frankie Kleiman. Alex Garcia, the couple’s close friend, told The Miami Herald he had set them up on a blind date. Kleiman lived with his wife and stepson on the same floor as his brother Jay Kleiman, who was in town for a funeral, and their mother Nancy Kress Levin. The Kleimans and their mother are still missing.

50-year-old Frank Kleiman, left, was found on Monday. He was Ana's husband
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50-year-old Frank Kleiman, left, was found on Monday. He was Ana’s husband

Ortiz was described as a woman who was committed to giving her son the best possible life.

‘She´s a rock star. And gorgeous,” Garcia told the Herald. “And on top of that a super mom.

FRANK KLEIMAN

Kleiman, 50, was the husband of Ana Ortiz, whose body was found alongside that of her disabled son, Luiz, over the weekend.

LEON AND CHRISTINA OLIWKOWICZ

Leon Oliwkowicz and his wife Christina were also identified as victims of the tower collapse on Sunday evening
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Leon Oliwkowicz and his wife Christina were also identified as victims of the tower collapse on Sunday evening

The couple lived on the 8th floor of the condo tower for several years, according to Venezuelan journalist Shirley Varnagy, a close friend of their family.

They were among six Venezuelan natives caught in the building’s collapse. Still missing Monday were Moisés Rodán, 28; Andrés Levine, 27; Luis Sadovnik, 28, and his wife, Nicole Langesfeld, Varnagy said.

Varnagy said the Oliwkowicz’s daughter had been outside the building waiting for some information about their fate. Her husband answered their phone and asked to be left alone.

The couple’s daughter, Mrs. Leah Fouhal, works as a secretary at a Jewish school in the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago, where the couple donated a Torah in 2019 in a procession that included a vintage fire truck, music and a giant velvet and gold crown, according to COLlive.com, an Orthodox Jewish news outlet that covers Chabad-Lubavitch communities around the world.

Meanwhile, the parents of Rodán, Levine and Sadovnik live in Venezuela and traveled to the U.S. Friday. ‘Some did not have a visa, others had an expired passport, but with diplomatic collaboration they were able to arrive,’ Varnagy said.

MICHAEL DAVID ALTMAN

Michael David Altman, 50,
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The body of 52-year-old Marcus Joseph Guara was recovered on Saturday

HILDA NORIEGA

Hilda Noriega (pictured) was named by her family Wednesday as the 12th confirmed victim of the tragedy
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Hilda Noriega (pictured) was named by her family Wednesday as the 12th confirmed victim of the tragedy

Hilda Noriega, who lived in Apt. 602 in the 12-story tower, was the mother of North Bay Village Police Chief Carlos Noriega.

She had only recently celebrated her 92nd birthday.

Her body was discovered among the remains of the condo tower Tuesday.

Her family paid tribute to the ‘matriarch of the family’ in a statement Wednesday.

Noriega’s son had traveled to the collapse site Thursday to look for his mother, who had only recently celebrated her 92nd birthday.

Among the rubble, the police chief found a birthday card a relative had given to Noriega at a brunch, reported Local10.

Emma Guara, 4, Lucia Guara, 10, Anaely Rodriguez, 42, and Marcus Guara, 52
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Emma Guara, 4, Lucia Guara, 10, Anaely Rodriguez, 42, and Marcus Guara, 52

THE GUARA FAMILY

Miami-Dade police identified 10-year-old Lucia Guara and 4-year-old Emma Guara as victims in the condo collapse on Wednesday, June 30.

The remains of their father, Marcus Guara, 52, were pulled from the rubble Saturday and identified Monday. The girls and their mother, Anaely Rodriguez, 42, were recovered Wednesday.

The family lived on the eighth floor of the condo.

DAVID AND BONNIE EPSTEIN 

Bonnie and David Epstein were on the ninth floor when the building gave way. Their son, Jonathan, who lives in New York City said he hasn’t been able to contact them.

‘I’m trying to be a little optimistic, but I just don’t see it,’ he told WJXT.

‘It just doesn’t seem real, you know? Why this building? It doesn’t make sense. I don’t know. I’m struggling to make sense of it.’

Bonnie and David Epstein were on the ninth floor when the building gave way. Authorities identified David's body on Sunday. His wife was found days earlier
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Bonnie and David Epstein were on the ninth floor when the building gave way. Authorities identified David’s body on Sunday. His wife was found days earlier

On Sunday, Miami-Dade police identified David, 58, as one of the 24 people known to have perished in the fallen tower. His remains were recovered on Friday.

Bonnie’s body was recovered days earlier. She was 56 years old.

The couple, who worked in real estate investments, moved to Florida to retire early so that they could pursue their love of water sports, according to a friend.

Richard Oller, a friend of the couple, wrote on Facebook that David and Bonnie lived on the ninth floor of the building with their dog.

GRACIELA CATTAROSSI AND STELLA CATTAROSSI

Seven-year-old Stella Cattarossi's body was found alongside her mother Graciela, 48
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Seven-year-old Stella Cattarossi’s body was found alongside her mother Graciela, 48

A Miami firefighter was present when the body of his seven-year-old daughter was recovered from the rubble of the Surfside condo catastrophe in Florida.

Officials said the body of Stella Cattarossi was found Tursday, seven days after the collapse of Champlain South Tower which has left 22 confirmed dead and 126 still missing.

Friends posting online said the girl was found sleeping alongside her 48-year-old mother Graciela. Authorities later confirmed that both mother and daughter were found.

They were staying with Graciella’s elderly parents, Graciela and Gino Cattarossi, who have not been identified, but are also unaccounted for.

Stella’s father Enrique Arango – a ten-year veteran of the Miami Fire Rescue department – is a member of the rescue team who found the girl and was present when her body was recovered.

He had been on the site with his brother.

Graciela’s sister Andrea, an architect based in Pilar, Argentina, was visiting at the time of the disaster. She is also still missing.

GONZALO TORRE 

Gonzalo Torre, 81, whose remains were found on Saturday, lived at the condo.

MARICOY OBIAS-BONNEFOY AND CLAUDIO BONNEFOY 

The bodies of Chilean national Claudio Bonnefo, 85, and his wife Maria ‘Maricoy’ Obias-Bonnefoy, 69, were identified by authorities.

They were among at least 36 people from Latin American nations that are missing, according to the Miami Herald. The couple were reported missing from Unit #1001.

Maricoy Obias-Bonnefoy, born in the Philippines, reportedly called her niece Irene Obias-Sanchez on the evening of the building collapse to discuss a family get-together planned for that coming Sunday.

The bodies of Chilean national Claudio Bonnefo, 85, and his wife Maria 'Maricoy' Obias-Bonnefoy, 69, were identified by authorities
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The bodies of Chilean national Claudio Bonnefo, 85, and his wife Maria ‘Maricoy’ Obias-Bonnefoy, 69, were identified by authorities

It would have been one their first family gatherings since the pandemic as the Bonnefoys were strict about following lockdown restrictions.

‘I could have just texted her back like I often did, but last night it felt different. I knew she wanted to talk about a get-together we were planning on Sunday with my sisters. She was so excited to finally be able to socialize with family after everyone was vaccinated,’ Obias-Sanchez said.

Obias-Bonnefoy had immigrated to the US in the 1970s and worked at the International Monetary Fund in Washington D.C. before moving to retiring and moving to Surfside about 10 years ago, the Miami Herald reported.

ANDREAS GIANNITSOPOULOS 

Andreas Giannitsopoulos, 21, of Houston was about to start his senior year at Vanderbilt University in Nashville.

Miami-Dade Police identified him as one of the victims of the June 24 condo collapse in Surfside.

Giannitsopoulos was in Surfside to visit his godfather and his father’s best friend, Manuel ‘Manny’ LaFont.

Andreas Giannitsopoulos, 21, of Houston was about to start his senior year at Vanderbilt University in Nashville. Miami-Dade Police identified him as one of the victims of the June 24 condo collapse in Surfside
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Andreas Giannitsopoulos, 21, of Houston was about to start his senior year at Vanderbilt University in Nashville. Miami-Dade Police identified him as one of the victims of the June 24 condo collapse in Surfside

The 54-year-old, a coach and business consultant, was also identified as one of the victims.

‘My brother was honestly like my other half,’ 19-year-old Athanasia Giannitsopoulos told The Tennessean.

‘He was my best friend as well as my older brother, so he always protected me and he was always there for me no matter what.

‘He was the most selfless person I have ever met in my life.’

 

 

 

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