Their efforts, aside from brief weather and safety delays concerning the dangerous and unstable conditions, have been around-the-clock. And continuing now into its fourth week, casualties are still being determined.
On Saturday, officials named another person who died in the collapse. 36-year-old Theresa Velasquez was recovered from the rubble on July 8, according to Miami-Dade police.
Two additional victims were identified by police on Friday. 51-year-old Brad Cohen and 79-year-old Maria Popa were recovered on July 7 and July 9, respectively.
The death toll remains at 97 and 95 victims have now been identified.
Miami-Dade County said this week that, moving forward, it will only be reporting the number of victims who have been identified, “out of respect for the families who are still waiting and to ensure we are reporting the most accurate possible numbers.”
Investigators on-site and off-site search for answers
“On the original collapse site, we are almost at the bottom,” Miami-Dade Police spokesperson Alvaro Zabaleta told CNN on Thursday. “Does that mean we are almost done with the search? No. Until we clear the entire site and find no more human remains we are not done.”
“We are almost there,” Zabaleta added.
While cleanup efforts may be nearing a completion point, determining the reasons behind the collapse will continue well into the foreseeable future.
One building engineer told CNN that his access to the site to investigate potential causes of the collapse has been limited while police investigate.
This week, Florida State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle acknowledged the “multiple requests by engineers and attorneys” to gain access to the site.
“Engineers from the federal agency National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) were deployed to Surfside with Congressional authority to gather evidence and determine how and why the Champlain South Tower collapsed. NIST is the fact-finding agency responsible for investigating building collapses such as the World Trade Center, much like the NTSB investigates plane crashes,” Rundle said in a statement.
“We cannot forget that the scene and all the related materials are still under active investigation, preservation and examination, and as usual, law enforcement is in charge of the scene,” Rundle noted.
“It is my understanding that once NIST, the Miami-Dade Fire Rescue and Miami-Dade Police Departments determine that it is safe and appropriate for others to gain access to the site, they will be permitted to do so under guidelines set forth by those agencies,” Rundle said.
CNN’s Rosa Flores, Rebekah Riess, Leyla Santiago, Claudia Dominguez and Tina Burnside contributed to this report.