Search and rescue crews recovered two more bodies Friday from the rubble of a partially collapsed residential building in Surfside, Florida, raising the death toll to 20.
Officials said at a media briefing in Surfside that one of the bodies found was that of a 7-year-old girl, the daughter of a firefighter in the nearby city of Miami.
The search continued Friday after its suspension most of Thursday due to safety concerns and the threat posed by Hurricane Elsa, which could hit Florida within days.
Officials said 128 people were still missing Friday, 17 fewer than the day before.
Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava told reporters the figures were subject to change, partially because investigators have sometimes identified more family members while trying to determine whether missing residents were safe.
Officials said they were planning to demolish the heavily damaged oceanfront building amid concerns about its instability, which prompted the earlier suspension of the search for survivors.
Federal Emergency Management Agency structures specialist Scott Nacheman told reporters at the briefing that engineers are exploring various methods of demolition and how “to make the site safe for ongoing rescue operations.”
U.S. President Joe Biden spoke to about 200 family members Thursday at a Miami Beach hotel, and then he and first lady Jill Biden went from table to table, conversing with them in smaller groups, according to the White House, which said the Bidens were joined by the state’s two U.S. senators along with Governor Ron DeSantis and other Florida politicians.
Before visiting a memorial near the site of the tragedy in the oceanfront community of nearly 6,000 residents, Biden announced that FEMA will provide temporary housing and other urgent needs for those made homeless by the disaster.
The president also met earlier with some of the search and rescue team members, whom he described as “under a great deal of stress.”
A 2018 engineering report noted “major structural damage” to a concrete slab beneath the building’s ground-floor pool and “abundant cracking” in the concrete structure of the parking garage.
Bids for millions of dollars in repair work were still pending when the building collapsed.
The president announced that the National Institute of Standards and Technology would try to determine why the building crumpled.
Florida emergency response officials said they were monitoring the potential development of tropical cyclones that could threaten the area in the coming days and were making plans so they could continue work at the collapse site as well as fulfill emergency response efforts elsewhere in the state.
This article includes content from Associated Press and Reuters.