The last victim of the condo collapse incident in Surfside, the U.S. state of Florida, was identified Monday by authorities, bringing the death toll from the tragedy to 98.
Miami-Dade County authorities have identified the last victim of the collapse of Champlain Towers South as Estelle Hedaya, a 54-year-old female with a love of travel, U.S. media reported, citing confirmation by Hedaya's family, who had been in limbo throughout the month-long rescue mission since their loved one had not been officially found and identified by authorities.
Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava told a news conference Monday afternoon that over the past 33 days, first responders "have searched the rubble as if they were searching for one of their own." The mayor called the incident "the largest non-hurricane related emergency response" in Florida's history.
"Nothing, we can say or do will bring back these 90 angels who left behind grieving families, beloved friends, loved ones across this community and across the world," Levine Cava said. "But we have done everything possible to bring closure to the families, and I am especially proud that through these tireless efforts, we were able, at last, to bring closure to all those who reported missing loved ones."
After weeks of searching and recovering, which had been interrupted by inclement weather conditions and risks of further crumbling of the building, Levine Cava said 98 victims have now been identified, including 97 victims who were recovered from the collapse and one person who died in hospital.
Ninety-eight families have been notified, and all 97 people for whom there was a missing persons report have been recovered, Levine Cava said, adding a total of 242 people are accounted for.
The Champlain Towers South, a beach-side condominium, partially collapsed in the early morning of June 24. No survivors have been found since the early hours after the collapse.
Experts said it could take months for investigators to determine what precisely caused a significant portion of the condo to collapse.