Authorities have announced another four bodies have been found, bringing the death toll of the Surfside building collapse to 16. Police have identified Hilda Noriega, 92, as the 12th victim. Noriega was the mother of nearby town North Bay Police Chief Carlos Noriega. More than 140 people remain unaccounted for.
“It is with great sadness that we announce the tragic passing of Hilda Noriega, the mother of Police Chief Carlos Noriega. The Noriega family was notified last evening of the recovery and positive identification of his mother from the Champlain Towers South catastrophic scene,” the North Bay Village said in a tweet.
Carlos and his son Mike were among the first responders to the collapse. In the ruins of the family matriarch’s apartment, they found photos of her and her late husband and birthday cards from friends.
“There was a message in the mess of all this,” Mike Noriega told AP. “It means not to give up hope. To have faith.”
In a statement, the Noriega family thanked the first responders and said they would remember their mother and grandmother’s “unconditional love.”
The other identified victims are Michael David Altman, 50; Marcus Joseph Guara, 52; Frank Kleiman, 55; Leon (Aryeh) Oliwkowicz, 80; Rus Oliwkowicz, 74; Luis Bermudez, 26; Anna Ortiz, 46; Antonio Lozano, 82; Gladys Lozano, 80; Manuel LaFont, 54; and Stacie Fang, 54. Fang’s teenage son was pulled from the rubble hours after the collapse when he managed to free his hand and wave for help, alerting first responders to his location. Fang, Kleiman, Altman and the Oliwkowiczes were Jewish.
Colonel Golan Vach, commander of the Israeli National Rescue Unit, told CNN on Wednesday that more tunnels were discovered within the rubble Tuesday night, which led the rescue teams to victims.
“At the last 12 hours we found some more people. We found people. Unfortunately, they are not alive,” he said. “These tunnels that we found right now were almost the first to be big enough to enable people to stay between them. Most of the collapse is very, very tight. The collapse was major.”
Vach would not reveal how many people were found because their next-of-kin has not been notified.
Vach said that he was still holding on to hope that survivors would be found.
Updated Wednesday, June 30, 2021 at 11:06 am .
Updated Wednesday, June 30, 2021 at 12:13 pm .
Updated Wednesday, June 30, 2021 at 12:32 pm .