“The court’s concern has always been the victims here,” the judge said, adding that the group includes visitors and renters, not just condo owners. “Their rights will be protected.” The $150 million does not count any proceeds from the numerous lawsuits already filed since the June 24 collapse, which killed at least 97 people. Those lawsuits are being consolidated into a single class action that would cover all victims and family members if they choose, the judge said.
As the remaining rubble from the collapse of a 12-story oceanfront condominium was cleared away Wednesday, a Florida judge said victims and families who suffered losses will get a minimum of $150 million in compensation initially. That sum includes about $50 million in insurance on the Champlain Towers South building and at least $100 million in proceeds from the sale of the Surfside property where the structure once stood, Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Michael Hanzman said at a hearing. “I have no doubt, no stone will be left unturned,” Hanzman said of the lawsuits.
So, far 96 victims have been identified, many of them using DNA analysis. Miami Dade officials said Wednesday evening they believe they have two more victims yet to identify. Officials have not yet announced an end to the recovery effort. Meanwhile, the site of the tragedy has mostly been cleared away with the debris relocated to an evidentiary collection site near the airport where a thorough search will continue “with enormous care and diligence,” said Mayor Daniella Levine Cava.
She spoke about the difficulties of the search in a statement Wednesday. “The enormous pressure of the weight of the collapse and the passage of time also make it more challenging,” she said, stressing that workers were still carefully combing through the rubble for the remaining victims as well as personal property and religious artifacts. On Wednesday, 24-year-old Anastasia Gromova was identified, according to her family and police. The young Canadian had just been accepted to a program teaching English in Japan and was visiting the condo for one last hurrah with friend Michelle Pazos. Gromova’s body was recovered three days ago and was one of the last to be identified.
Her grieving family rushed from Canada after the collapse and had spent weeks in agony waiting in Miami. “It just makes it real and hard but on a different level. At least we can move on now.” her sister Anna Gromova told The Associated Press, describing her sister as a bright star that fell fast. “We will remember her forever.” Her parents said she was bright, always on the go, constantly smiling and unafraid to take on difficult challenges.
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