- Three more people were found dead at the Surfside condo site near Miami on Monday.
- The rescue operation had been on hold over the weekend to safely demolish the remaining structure.
- Fire officials said the death toll is now 27 as Tropical Storm Elsa bears down on the state.
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Twelve days after the collapse, three more bodies were found at the site of the Champlain Towers condominiums near Miami, fire officials told the AP on Monday morning.
Authorities previously said the demolition was necessary to make the site safer for the rescue operation. Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said storm winds could even cause the building to fall “in the wrong direction.”
Crews used controlled explosives to bring down the damaged building on Sunday night, and the rescue operations were able to resume within 20 minutes, Miami-Dade Assistant Fire Chief Raide Jadallah told family members.
Rescuers were able to reach new areas of the disaster site that had been previously inaccessible prior to the demolition, leading to the latest discovery of the victims of the collapse.
“We understand that families realize the fact that time has gone by, they realize that the chances are growing dimmer and dimmer,” Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said on NBC’s “Today” Monday morning. “They are with us; they know exactly what we’ve been doing every step of the way.”
The death toll now stands at 27, with at least 115 people still unaccounted for, the AP reported.
An Israeli military search-and-rescue operation expert told local media he did not expect to find additional survivors and that most of his team would be headed home Monday.
“I believe right now that the chances are close to zero, unfortunately,” said Col. Golan Vach. “The circumstances we saw in the last few days are too difficult for me to say professionally that I believe there is a solid chance to find somebody alive.”
Other survival experts have previously told Insider that the more time goes on the less likely the chance of finding people alive.
The entire operation was forced onto an accelerated schedule as Tropical Storm Elsa progressed through the Caribbean and could reach Miami as early as 2 a.m. on Tuesday morning.