Surfside Death Toll Rises to 64; Gary Cohen, Z”l, and Chaim Rosenberg, Z”l, Identified

surfside death toll
Recovery workers at the scene of the Surfside Collapse, Thursday. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

Crews searching the collapsed condominium tower in Surfside, Florida, have discovered four more bodies, Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine-Cava said Thursday afternoon, one day after the search was changed from a rescue to a recovery operation.

In addition to the six bodies whose discovery Levine-Cava announced Thursday morning, the total number of bodies discovered is now 64, with 40 of the victims identified. Seventy-six people are still unaccounted for.

Among the newly identified are Dr. Gary Cohen, 58, z”l, and Chaim Rosenberg, 52, z”l. Rosenberg’s daughter and son-in-law Malki and Benny Weisz, who were visiting him in Florida, are still missing, as is Dr. Gary Cohen’s brother, Dr. Bradley Cohen.

The levayah for Rosenberg is scheduled for 9:00 a.m. Friday in Midwood, in front of Rabbi Weinfeld’s shul at Avenue L and East 22nd Street.

Dr. Bradley Cohen’s daughter Elisheva became one of the faces of the anguish of relatives of the missing, after Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett emotionally described seeing her reciting Tehillim at the scene of the collapse. After hearing Burkett’s story, President Joe Biden specifically asked to meet with Elisheva when Biden visited Surfside last week.

Officials have also recovered “182 specimens from the evidentiary debris at the original collapsed structure,” Levine-Cava said, and an “additional 32 from the demolished building.” The wing of the building that had remained standing after the other portion collapsed two weeks ago, was demolished Sunday night because it posed a danger to rescuers.

Levine-Cava said earlier that the body of each victim is handled with sensitivities appropriate to their faith.

“Every victim we recover is handled with extreme care and compassion,” the mayor said. “So we have had faith leaders embedded in our operation since the beginning, including rabbis and a faith-based organization called ZAKA that’s working directly with the Miami-Dade Police Department to do everything possible to handle the remains of Jewish victims in a manner consistent with the Jewish faith and with all the care and sensitivity possible. We have a tent designated on site and when a Jewish body is discovered, a prayer is performed and specific protocols are followed to honor both the faith traditions and the integrity of the investigation.”

As of midnight Wednesday night, the emergency effort officially transitioned from an attempt to find survivors to a recovery operation, dashing hopes of extracting anyone alive from the rubble.

“Yesterday was tough,” Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said Thursday. “But the work is going to go on and they are going to identify every single person.”

Additional reporting by AP and Reuters.


Updated Thursday, July 8, 2021 at 6:38 pm .