Miami condo collapse death toll rises to 27 after demolition clears way for search to resume

Florida officials acknowledge 'dimmer and dimmer' chances of finding survivors at the Champlain Towers site

Search crews who resumed their work after the still-standing portion of the partially collapsed condo building in Surfside, Florida, was brought down using explosives Sunday night found three more bodies.

The death toll now stands at 27, with 118 people still unaccounted for, Miami-Dade County officials told family members, the Associated Press reports. Two of the victims recovered Sunday were identified as Ingrid Ainsworth, 66, and Tzvi Ainsworth, 68.

The demolition occurred after 10 p.m. ET, 11 days after the shocking collapse of much of the residential Champlain Towers structure on June 24.

County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said the demolition of the remaining portion of the building was a necessary step for crews to continue their search for any possible survivors of the disaster.

"Bringing down this building in a controlled manner is critical to expanding the scope of our search-and-rescue effort," Cava told reporters at a news conference, according to The Associated Press. She told NBC "Today" show Monday morning that crews returned before midnight.

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Cava and other officials have pledged that search efforts will continue in hopes of finding survivors even though the odds of finding anyone still alive after more than a week were not favorable.

"This rescue effort, as far as I'm concerned, will go on until everybody is pulled out of that debris," Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said earlier Sunday during an appearance on CBS News' "Face the Nation."

"Families realize that time has gone by, they realize that the chances are growing dimmer and dimmer," Cava acknowledged to NBC.

Concerns had developed in recent days that the still-standing portion of the building was unsafe and could have endangered search crews as they worked at the site, the AP reported.

The situation was made more uncertain by the approach of Tropical Storm Elsa, which was heading toward Florida after barreling through the Caribbean over the past several days – although the worst of the storm was expected to travel west of Surfside, according to forecasters.

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The June 24 partial collapse of the Champlain Towers structure drew new scrutiny to the issue of construction integrity in Florida.

The damage to the building had officials and residents alike reviewing past communications about concerns at the building, with several surviving residents already filing lawsuits.

On Friday, officials in neighboring North Miami Beach ordered the shutdown and evacuation of a high-rise condominium building in that community, citing structural concerns.

Sunday night's razing of the remaining portion of the Surfside building will ultimately give search crews better access to other parts of the site, Miami-Dade Assistant Fire Chief Raide Jadallah told the AP.

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The demolition was handled by BG Group, a general contracting outfit in Delray, Florida, on a $935,000 contract from the state, according to the news agency.

Crews had planned to place the explosives in the basement and lobby levels of the structure, officials said prior to the blast, in a process called "energetic felling," the AP reported.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.