There is still hope that some of the over 140 people believed to be in the rubble of the building collapse in Surfside, Florida are alive and can be reached in time to save them.
As IDF Home Front Command Col. Elad Edri told reporters at the scene on Wednesday, “We believe there are still” people alive. “We’re treating those trapped as still living,” he was quoted as saying by The Times of Israel.
Edri said that his team is working with 3D maps, gathering information from family members and working with the local search-and-rescue teams to narrow its search field.
Col. (res.) Golan Vach told Reuters that the disaster is “one of the most complicated and difficult situations I have ever seen.”
“There are minor chances, but I would not say there are no chances” of still finding people alive, he said, even though it’s been six days since the condo fell early Thursday morning. He noted that in other collapse disasters, buried people have been saved after similar periods of time.
“Every day we find new spaces, new tunnels and we get into the site from below, from the side, from above,” Vach said. “We are trying to find new places to penetrate.”
The IDF’s National Rescue Unit headed by Vach is made up of 10 reserve officers from the Home Front Command, all experts in engineering.
Unit members are working 12-hour shifts, he said, but there is an emotional toll that goes with the physical challenge of the painstaking rescue effort.
“Sometimes we cry. It’s natural,” Vach said. “We talk, every night, with all the people [involved in the rescue] and we share.”
“It gives us strength. It’s our job,” he said.