A fourth Canadian victim has been identified nearly four weeks after the collapse of a 12-storey condo tower in Surfside, Fla., that killed more than 90 people.
Miami-Dade police told CBC News Wednesday that 24-year-old Anastasia Gromova had been identified as one of the victims.
Gromova was travelling with her friend Michelle Pazos, another Canadian who was also identified among the victims in the June 24 collapse of the Champlain Towers South.
Gromova’s 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.
“It’s hard because you knew the loss was preventable and still nothing was prevented,” her sister said.
Judge outlines likely compensation
Meanwhile, victims and families who suffered losses in the collapse will get a minimum of $150 million US in compensation initially, a judge said Wednesday.
That sum includes about $50 million US in insurance on the Champlain Towers South building and at least $100 million US in proceeds from the sale of the Surfside property where the structure once stood, Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Michael Hanzman said at a hearing.
“The court’s concern has always been the victims here,” the judge said.
The group includes visitors and renters, not just condo owners, he said.
“Their rights will be protected.”
The $150 million US 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, according to the judge.
“I have no doubt no stone will be left unturned,” Hanzman said of the lawsuits.
Long recovery effort
So, far 96 victims have been identified, many of them using DNA analysis.
Relatives and friends of three missing people say they are awaiting word on loved ones believed to have been in the building, meaning the overall toll could potentially go up to 98.
Officials have not yet announced an end to the recovery effort.
The site of the tragedy has been completely cleared of debris under the watchful eye of investigators from the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology — the agency leading a federal probe into the collapse, according to a receiver handling the finances on behalf of the condominium board.
Rubble considered key evidence is being stored in a Miami-area warehouse, with the rest in nearby vacant lots, said the receiver, attorney Michael Goldberg.
All of that will be preserved as possible evidence for the lawsuits and for other experts to review, he said.
“It may take years for their report to become public,” Goldberg said of the NIST probe.
The building was just undergoing its 40-year recertification process when it collapsed. That came three years after an engineer warned of serious structural issues needing immediate attention. Most of the concrete repair and other work had yet to be started.