The torment showed few signs of abating for the relatives of some 150 people who remain missing after a condo building near Miami collapsed, with officials bracing them for the death toll to climb as a grueling search entered its sixth day.
As of Monday evening, the death toll had risen to 11 at Champlain South Towers in Surfside, Fla., where the floors of the 13-story building fell on top of one another early on Thursday morning.
The authorities once again stopped short of characterizing the search as a recovery operation, though no survivors had been pulled from the pile of pulverized steel and concrete boulders since Thursday.
Two of the victims were found on Monday, said Mayor Daniella Levine Cava of Miami-Dade County, who cautioned during a news conference that the death toll was fluid. She said the wait was an agonizing one for families.
“That is excruciating,” she said. “We have them coping with the news that they might not have their loved ones come out alive and still hope against hope that they will.”
Emergency responders, grappling with steady rainfall, subterranean chasms and other potentially hidden dangers, emphasized on Monday that they had no choice but to delicately comb through the rubble.
Ray Jadallah, the assistant fire chief of operations for Miami-Dade Fire Rescue, recounted on Monday how one person on the search-and-rescue team “tumbled 25 feet down the mound,” in full view of family members of the missing who had been invited to watch the rescue efforts.
“It’s going to take time, it’s not going to happen overnight,” Chief Jadallah said.
Stacie Fang, 54, was the first victim identified in the condo collapse. She was the mother of Jonah Handler, a 15-year-old boy who was pulled alive from the rubble in a dramatic rescue as he begged rescuers, “Please don’t leave me.”
Antonio Lozano, 83, and Gladys Lozano, 79, were confirmed dead by Mr. Lozano’s nephew, Phil Ferro, the chief meteorologist on WSVN Channel 7 in Miami. Mr. Ferro wrote on Instagram: “They were such beautiful people. May they rest in peace.”
Luis Andres Bermudez, 26, lived with his mother, Anna Ortiz, 46. Mr. Bermudez’s father confirmed his son’s death on social media, writing in Spanish: “My Luiyo. You gave me everything … I will miss you all of my life. We’ll see each other soon. I will never leave you alone.”
Manuel LaFont, 54, was a businessman who worked with Latin American companies. His former wife, Adriana LaFont, described him as “the best dad.” Mr. LaFont’s son, 10, and daughter, 13, were with Ms. LaFont when the building collapsed.
Leon Oliwkowicz, 80, and Christina Beatriz Elvira, 74, were from Venezuela and had recently moved to Surfside, according to Chabadinfo.com, which said they were active in the Orthodox Jewish community in greater Chicago, where their daughter lives.
Also killed in the collapse were Marcus Joseph Guara, 52; Frank Kleiman, 55; and Michael David Altman, 50.
More than 100 people gathered for a beach vigil on Monday night to commemorate victims and those still missing after last week’s condo collapse near Miami.
Family members, friends and residents sat cross-legged in the sand, holding glow-in-the-dark candle sticks and white roses as the sound of waves filled the air. People remained mostly silent as they grieved at the end of the fifth day of a harrowing search for survivors. Hopes have been dimming and frustration has built around the slow pace of rescue efforts.
A half-circle formed around Michelle Cash and her husband, Rich Gausman, who led a “sound healing” session on the beach behind the Four Seasons Hotel at the Surf Club. “Hope” was spelled in the nearby sand with wet seaweed and candlesticks.
As the session went on, people wiped away tears. Others clasped their hands in prayer. A cool breeze offered reprieve from the sweltering heat.
“The pain, the suffering that has been going on in this community will never be understood. Days will pass, months will pass, America, the world will forget about this,” said Leo Soto, 26, who started a makeshift memorial wall near the collapse site. “We have to live through this. We’ll never forget about this.”
Naomi Romo and Alfredo Garcia of Miami brought three bouquets of flowers to the vigil. Ms. Romo was in the same graduating class as Nicky Langesfeld, who lived in Unit 804 and is among those missing. Although Ms. Romo said she did not know Ms. Langesfeld well, she often passed her in the hallway when they both attended Ronald W. Reagan Doral Senior High School.
“It’s a person that you grew up seeing. I’ve seen her since middle school,” said Ms. Romo, a 25-year-old therapist. “Everything has been a shock. I’m just here to give any kind of support that I can offer.”
When did it happen?
Survivors said they were jolted awake at about 1:30 a.m. on Thursday by fire alarms, falling debris and the feeling of the ground trembling.
How many people have died?
At least 11 people were killed. The authorities fear many more fatalities.
How many are unaccounted for?
Some 150 people remained unaccounted for as of Monday, officials said.
How many have been rescued?
About 35 people were rescued from the intact part of the building, and two were pulled from the rubble, said Ray Jadallah, a Miami-Dade Fire Rescue assistant fire chief.
How tall was the building?
The tower was 13 stories tall; about half of the 135 units collapsed.
When was it built?
It was constructed in 1981, according to county property records.
How many people live in Surfside, Fla.?
The town, just north of Miami Beach, has about 5,600 residents. It is a mostly residential community, with several multistory condominium buildings along Surfside Beach on the Atlantic Ocean. The town has an Orthodox Jewish community and is also home to many retirees as well as immigrants from South America.
Fifteen days after a devastating earthquake struck Haiti in 2010, when the authorities had already called off the search for survivors, passers-by heard a faint voice calling for help from the debris in Port-au-Prince.
Alerted to the possibility of a survivor, French rescuers pulled Darlene Etienne, who was 15 at the time, out of a collapsed building.
Such rescues are remarkably rare in the aftermath of disasters, but they may offer a glimmer of hope to families still missing loved ones days after the collapse of a 13-story tower in South Florida.
Some of the same rescue teams that were deployed to Haiti are now on the ground outside Miami, drawing on their expertise in disaster zones. They include Mexico’s famed Topos, or Moles, a volunteer unit formed after a 1985 earthquake flattened thousands of buildings in Mexico City, and specially trained rescuers from the Israel Defense Forces.
They join Miami-Dade County’s own urban search-and-rescue unit, which was formed in the 1980s. The team has responded to disasters including the Haiti earthquake and hurricanes across the Caribbean.
Ms. Etienne is thought to have survived the calamity because she was relatively unscathed amid the rubble and in a bathroom at the time of the quake, with access to small amounts of water.
That water is believed to have allowed her to avoid dying of dehydration, one of the main risks for survivors of building collapses. Survivors sometimes also contend with crush injuries and infections.
Another girl, 12, was similarly rescued in Haiti after spending nine days in the rubble. After making sure she did not have brain or abdominal injuries, rescuers slowly gave her fluids to recover from dehydration.
Emergency medicine experts say it is rare for someone to survive more than three or four days without water. Having access to water is one factor that could enable someone to survive. Another is remaining warm since being in a cold climate can place additional stress on survivors.