SURFSIDE, Fla. — Families of the missing visited the scene of the Florida condo building collapse Sunday as rescuers kept digging through the mound of rubble and clinging to hope that someone could yet be alive somewhere under the broken concrete and twisted metal.
The death toll rose by just four people, to a total of nine confirmed dead. But after almost four full days of search-and-rescue efforts, more than 150 additional people were still missing in Surfside. No one has been pulled alive from the pile since Thursday, hours after the collapse.
Some families had hoped their visit would allow them to shout messages to loved ones possibly buried deep inside the pile.
Buses brought several groups of relatives to a place where they could view the pile and the rescuers at work. As relatives returned to a nearby hotel, several paused to embrace as they got off the bus. Others walked slowly with arms around each other back to the hotel entrance.
“We are just waiting for answers. That’s what we want,” said Dianne Ohayon, whose parents, Myriam and Arnie Notkin were in the building. “It’s hard to go through these long days and we haven’t gotten any answers yet.”
Israeli Diaspora Affairs Minister Nachman Shai, who visited with family members, led a humanitarian delegation to Surfside that included several Israeli experts in search-and-rescue operations. He said the experts have told him of cases where survivors were found after 100 hours or more.
“So don’t lose hope, that’s what I would say. But you have everyone understanding the longer it takes, the prospects of finding someone alive goes down,” he said.
“If you watch the scene, you know it’s almost impossible to find someone alive,” Shai added. “But you never know. Sometimes miracles happen, you know? We Jews believe in miracles.”
Rescuers sought to reassure families that they were doing as much as possible to find missing loved ones, but the crews said they needed to work carefully for the best chance of uncovering survivors.
Some relatives have been frustrated with the pace of rescue efforts.
“My daughter is 26 years old, in perfect health. She could make it out of there,” one mother told rescuers during a weekend meeting with family members. A video of the meeting was posted by Instagram user Abigail Pereira.
“It’s not enough,” continued the mother, who was among relatives who pushed authorities to bring in experts from other countries to help. “Imagine if your children were in there.”
Scores of rescue workers remained on the massive heap of rubble Sunday, searching for survivors but so far finding only bodies and human remains.
In a meeting with families Saturday evening, people moaned and wept as Miami-Dade Assistant Fire Chief Raide Jadallah explained why he could not answer their repeated questions about how many victims they had found.