UPDATE: Miami condo collapse search and rescue temporarily halted—death count rises to 18

One week after the sudden collapse of a South Florida condo building, the death toll now stands at 18 with another 145 missing.

Rescue efforts at the site of a partially collapsed Florida condominium building resumed Thursday evening after a 15-hour pause for safety concerns, and officials said they had started planning for the likely demolition of the remaining structure. Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said the decision about the demolition needs to be made “extremely carefully and methodically,” considering the potential impact on the pile of debris and the effect on the search-and-rescue operations.

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An engineer from the Federal Emergency Management Agency said it would likely be weeks before officials schedule the demolition. “What we know is that the columns on the east side of the building are kind of, of concern, not compromised, but just right now of concern,” Jadallah said. “Hypothetically, worst-case scenario: If these columns are truly really bad, we are worried they could collapse right back into the parking garage.” Families were asking if they could add tensions rods but the assistant fire chief said that is not possible, according to structural engineers.

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden arrived in Surfside one week after the collapse. They landed in South Florida on Thursday morning and thanked first responders and search and rescue teams. They also planned to meet with the families of victims, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said.

During a briefing with DeSantis and Levine Cava, Biden praised the cooperative efforts of local, state and federal agencies on the ground. “This is life and death,” Biden said at the briefing. “We can do it, just the simple act of everyone doing what needs to be done, makes a difference.” The president said he believed the federal government would be able to cover the full cost of the search and cleanup and asked local officials to turn to Washington for assistance.

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