Death toll rises to 18 after bodies of 2 girls found in rubble of Surfside condo collapse

During day seven of search and rescue efforts, six more bodies were found at the Surfside condo collapse site, bringing the death toll to 18. 

Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said two of the bodies found Wednesday were children, ages 4 and 10, calling the loss "too great to bear." 

The Miami-Dade Police Department later identified the girls as sisters Emma and Lucia Guara, ages 4 and 10.

According to WSVN's Frank Guzman, the girls' father was 52-year-old Marcus Guara, and their mother was 42-year-old Anaely Rodriguez, both of whom were previously found in the search.

15 of the victims have been identified:

  • 10-year-old Lucia Guara
  • 4-year-old Emma Guara
  • 42-year-old Anaely Rodriguez
  • 21-year-old Andreas Giannitsopoulos
  • 54-year-old Stacie Fang
  • 54-year-old Manuel Lafont
  • 83-year-old Antonio Lozano
  • 79-year-old Gladys Lozano
  • 80-year-old Leon Oliwkowicz
  • 26-year-old Luis Bermudez
  • 46-year-old Anna Ortiz
  • 74-year-old Christina Beatriz Elvira
  • 55-year-old Frank Kleiman
  • 52-year-old Marcus Guara
  • 50-year-old Michael Altman

Cava said 145 people remain missing.

The 12th victim, who was located Tuesday, has been identified as 92-year-old Hilda Noriega, the mother of Police Chief Carlos Noriega in North Bay Village, a city in Miami-Dade County.

The family released the following statement Wednesday morning:

RELATED: Family finds grandmother's photos, birthday card among flying debris from collapsed Florida condo building

Meanwhile, officials said they were working with local, state and federal partners to monitor a tropical system churning in the Atlantic. They said they did not expect the system to have a direct impact on Miami and the Surfside area, but they would be ready should it present a threat to search efforts.

In April, the condo board president sent owners a letter, saying structural problems identified in a 2018 inspection had "gotten significantly worse." The key issue: weakening concrete.

The letter also told owners they needed to pay a hefty price to get them fixed.

The April 9 "Dear Neighbors" letter from Champlain Towers South Condominium President Jean Wodnicki hinted at an ongoing debate over the repairs and a reluctance by some condo owners to pay for major work that would cost at least $15.5 million.

"A lot of this work could have been done or planned for in years gone by. But this is where we are now," she wrote in the letter, which was confirmed to The Associated Press by a spokesman for the condo board.

RELATED: Florida Senator proposes statewide inspection requirements for condos

Wodnicki noted costs had increased since an October 2018 report by engineering firm Morabito Consultants first identified key issues with weakening concrete, and she predicted they would only grow more if put off any longer.

Two months later, on June 24, the 12-story Champlain Towers South building in Surfside came tumbling down. Search crews have been working around the clock since last Thursday, sifting through the rubble. 

Authorities asked the federal government for an additional rescue team to comb the rubble of a collapsed condo tower, underscoring the strenuous nature of the open-ended search for survivors in an area prone to tropical weather.

The possibility that severe weather in coming days could further stretch Florida’s search and rescue resources prompted state officials to ask the federal government for the additional team, Kevin Guthrie of the Florida Division of Emergency Management said Tuesday. Already, intermittent bad weather has caused temporary delays in the search.

Late Tuesday afternoon, rescue officials sounded a horn for a second time during the day’s work, signaling an approaching storm with lightning. Workers temporarily evacuated.

"There are two areas of (possible storm) development out in the Atlantic, heading to the Caribbean. We have eight urban rescue teams in Florida. We talked about doing a relief," Guthrie said at a news conference Tuesday night. "We have all the resources we need but we’re going to bring in another team. We want to rotate those out so we can get more resources out."

READ: Tropical disturbance ‘something to watch’ as it makes its way through Atlantic to Caribbean islands

President Joe Biden and the First Lady will travel to Surfside Thursday to visit with families of victims and first responders.

So far, about three million pounds of concrete have been removed from the site. Authorities said it’s still a search-and-rescue operation, but no one has been found alive since hours after the collapse on Thursday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report