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United States President Joe Biden and his wife arrived in Florida on Thursday to meet with the families of the victims of the building that collapsed on June 24. His visit comes as search for the rubble has been suspended due to concerns about the site’s safety.
Three hours of interviews with the relatives of the victims of the collapse of a building near Miami, and meetings with rescuers. As hopes of finding survivors dwindle hour by hour, President Biden and his wife arrived in Florida on Thursday, July 1, for a visit marked by empathy and “comfort.”
While the official toll is 18 people dead and 140 others missing, the president, who has made his empathy a marker of his mandate, intends to reserve most of his time for meetings with rescue teams, then with relatives of victims or missing people.
But Joe Biden wants above all “to bring comfort” during this visit, declared Karine Jean-Pierre, his spokesperson, to the journalists present on board Air Force One.
The president also wants to send a “message of unity”, arguing that the federal state and local authorities have joined forces in the face of the tragedy, she added, without specifying whether Joe Biden would visit the site. even the disaster, where rescuers suspended their operations in the heap of rubble.
“We were forced to shut down operations (…) at dawn due to concerns” about the part of the building still standing after the collapse, the Miami-Dade County mayor said Thursday. , Daniella Levine Cava, at a press conference.
However, no information was available on a possible visit by the presidential couple to the site of the tragedy, where relief operations were suspended at dawn, due to concerns about the security of the site.
The mayor of the county of Miami-Dade assured that the visit of Joe Biden would have “no impact” on the desperate search for survivors, which will resume as soon as “the safety” of the rescue teams is assured.
Most of the twelve-story building, named Champlain Towers, collapsed on June 24 at around 1:20 a.m. in a cloud of dust, one of the worst urban disasters in US history. .
The improbable miracle
A single teenager was extracted from the rubble in the early hours of relief operations. Since then, each hour that passes dispels a little more the hope of a miracle.
Among those missing are dozens of Latin Americans from Argentina, Colombia, Paraguay, Chile and Uruguay. Their families “are in the dark and this is going to be one of the most psychologically dangerous times a person can go through,” said Raphael Poch, a therapist from Israel with a team of rescuers.
If the hypothesis of a failure in the maintenance of the building has been raised, no clear answer has been given, and the bodies are extracted from the rubble in droppings, over slow and complex searches.
“There is no denying the current situation: it has been more than six days since the collapse and the chances of finding people alive are slim,” said Elad Edri, deputy commander of the Israeli rescue team lending a helping hand, on Wednesday. to American rescuers since Sunday.
More than 1,400 tonnes of concrete have already been excavated, Governor Ron DeSantis said Thursday.
A report on the condition of the building noted as early as 2018 “major structural damage”, as well as “cracks” in the basement of the building, according to documents released by the city of Surfside. The publication on Tuesday of a letter dated April from the president of the assembly of co-owners – alarmed by the state of the building – also fueled the debate as to whether the disaster could have been avoided.