A Florida fire chief on July 1 said that a woman trapped in the wreckage of the Champlain Towers died while waiting for help, even after the rescuers managed to speak to her. While speaking at a press conference, Miami-Dade County Chief Alan Cominsky said that rescuers heard “audible sounds” from a woman during their initial search underneath the crumbled remains of the 12-story building. However, after searching for several hours, the rescuers couldn’t reach her or even see her and after a while, they stopped hearing her voice as well.
“That’s emphasizing the magnitude of what we’re going through. The effort that all our fire rescue personnel, anyone that’s here on scene, trying to do the best we can in these heroic efforts. And, unfortunately, we didn’t have success in that,” Cominsky added.
According to a supervisor’s email obtained by WPLG, hours after the building in Surfside, Florida collapsed, rescue workers learned of a woman who was still alive in a lower level of the wreckage. Without knowing if the rubble was stable, the rescuers ventured inside and managed to locate the woman’s voice. However, it was coming from behind a wall of debris.
An unnamed rescuer told the media outlet that the crew kept continuously talking to her. The woman had even said that she was pinned next to a bed and her parents were also trapped somewhere near her as well. The crew kept reportedly talking to her “about 10 to 11 hours after the collapse”. But eventually had to pull back because a fire broke out nearby. Later, they learned that the woman had died.
As per reports, the death of the woman had hit the rescuers with a “feeling of not only defeat but a feeling of loss as well." It is still not clear if the woman’s body has yet been recovered or identified. It is worth mentioning that at least 18 people are dead and 145 still missing in the rubble of the apartment building, which collapsed on June 24.
Meanwhile, on Thursday, US President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden also visited the devastated site and consoled the community. The Champlain Towers South building in Surfside partially went down while it was in between its recertification process that includes several structural and electrical inspections. During the briefing on the same day the rescue operations unfolded, US President said, “This is life and death...We can do it, just the simple act of everyone doing what needs to be done, makes a difference”.
“There’s gonna be a lot of pain and anxiety and suffering and even the need for psychological help in the days and months that follow,” he said. “And so, we’re not going anywhere.”
(With Agency Inputs)