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Rescue Teams Hold Out Hope Of Finding Survivors In Florida Condo Collapse

A search dog named Oreo, a 2 yr. old female pomsky, owned by volunteer Moises Soffer, 36, from Mexico is held outside on June 27, 2021 in Surfside, Florida. - It's the fifth day, and rescuers have heard no human sounds from within the massive, smoking pile of twisted metal and concrete. Miami-Dade firefighters, their faces tight with exhaustion, tunnel piece by jagged piece into the debris, searching for any sign of the more than 150 people who remain missing after the 12-story beachside apartment building collapsed in the middle of a sweltering Florida summer night, its residents asleep inside. For the families of the missing, the progress is agonisingly slow, and their anger, frustration and grief is palpable. Rescuers say they understand the desperation. Moises Soffer, a volunteer with the Latin American Jewish organisation Cadena International, is helping with the search with his dog Oreo, a pomsky who at just under two years old is specially trained to find survivors. "She can go wherever she wants, into craves, voids where people normally don't go, because of her weight she can go where there is instability," says Soffer, 36, from Mexico. When it is too dangerous or the rubble is too unstable, he says, "we do tracking, she gives me a sense of direction with the leash." "I know the families ask why we are not going faster," says Maggie Castro, a paramedic with the Miami-Dade fire department. (Photo by Gianrigo MARLETTA / AFP) (Photo by GIANRIGO MARLETTA/AFP via Getty Images)
Moises Soffer, a volunteer member of Cadena International's search-and-rescue team working at the site of the condo building collapse, holds a trained search dog named Oreo in Surfside, Fla., on Sunday.

U.S. and international rescue teams are hopeful they will find survivors as they work long hours searching through the rubble of a beachfront condo building in Surfside, Fla. It's been nearly a week since part of the 12-story structure collapsed in the middle of the night. Sixteen people are confirmed dead and 147 more are unaccounted for. Leon Roy Hausmann is a board member of Cadena International, a disaster assistance nonprofit that has provided a trained team of volunteers from Mexico to help with the search and rescue. "You detect life if you're lucky, and then you have the challenge to reach such location and take out the person, the survivor, you know, without harming him," Hausmann said in an interview with NPR's Morning Edition. "This is very treacherous terrain. It's not stable. It's challenging because you have to be very careful in the way that you reach without making the whole thing collapse," he said.Hausmann described the volunteers on the Cadena team "as young individuals, some of them are in the 20s. They left everything they were doing just to come here and help. But they're fully committed to fulfill this mission and find lives. And I cannot be more proud of them. They're amazing people."Their team also includes a rescue dog and a special device that uses sonar to spot underground movement. It can even register vital signs of possible survivors up to 39 feet beneath the rubble.Hausmann is Jewish and so are the seven men and women doing the dangerous work. He says a precept from the Talmud keeps him and his team going: Whoever saves one life saves the entire world."Of course, we want to save as many lives as we can, but even saving one life — to rescue somebody with life at this moment will be such a blessing," he said.He said that rescue teams from Cadena have worked in the aftermath of earthquakes, hurricanes and other humanitarian crises around the world. That included rescuing a survivor in Nepal who had been buried under rubble for seven days."Those are miracles," Hausmann said. "I don't want to create false expectations, but all I'm trying to say is that we still remain hopeful because that's who we are." Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.