IDF delegation in Miami to remain until the end of the week
Death toll in the collapse of the Surfside condo building rises to 28, with 117 still missing.
The IDF’s Home Front Command mission helping rescue efforts at the Champlain Towers South apartment complex in Surfside will remain at the site for an additional week, the Defense Ministry said Tuesday.
The death toll in the collapse rose to 28 on Tuesday after three more bodies were found. Another 117 are still missing.
A team of seven engineering experts and those who are assisting the Jewish community with psychological support will return to Israel on Thursday.
The decision to extend the mission was made in light of requests made by Jewish organizations and updates received concerning the mission’s effectiveness. It was made by Defense Minister Benny Gantz and IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kohavi.
“We will continue to reach out to any country in need, and in particular to our American friends and our brothers and sisters, the Jews of the Diaspora,” Gantz said. “I share in the grief of the families who lost their loved ones, and from here I give reinforcement to the families of those injured and missing in the disaster.”
Eight members of the Israeli delegation returned home on Monday after the remaining part of the building was demolished ahead of Tropical Storm Elsa, after the team assessed what capabilities would be needed following the demolition of the rest of the building.
The demolition allowed rescuers to safely expand the search area for those still missing, said Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who told NPR News that the newly accessible section is a part of the building where many bedrooms were located, and may contain the remains of many who are still missing.
Part of the building collapsed early in the morning of June 24, leveling 55 of the building’s 136 units.
According to Col. Elad Edri, deputy commander of the IDF delegation, the hundreds of rescuers at the site know where apartments used to be and where exactly to look, thanks to 3D modeling done by IDF troops.
The delegation, led by Col. Golan Vach, landed in Miami on June 27 and has been working side by side with American and Mexican teams in a search-and-rescue mode.
Israel has often aided countries struck by natural disasters, sending teams from the IDF Medical Corps and Home Front Command to countries such as Brazil, Mexico, Haiti, the Philippines, Japan, Turkey and Nepal.
A large number of the dead and missing are part of Miami’s large Jewish community. Before the team took off, the IDF said “the mission of the delegation is to assist in the life-saving efforts by mapping the challenges at the site of the destruction, assisting the Jewish community and supporting the local rescue forces.”