Miami building collapse firefighter recovers own daughters body among ruins

A heartbroken firefighter helped remove the body of his own seven-year-old daughter from the Miami building collapse on Friday afternoon.

The grieving father used his jacket to drape his child's body and placed a small US flag on the gurney, a witness told US media.

Miami firefighters found the girl's body at the site of the Champlain Towers South collapse in the city's Surfside suburb on Thursday night.

Fire Rescue Captain Ignatius “Iggy” Carroll said the unnamed firefighter was there to assist in the removal of the body, but was not the one who recovered it.

A fire crew escorted the father and daughter through a group of police officers who lined up on the roadway, the witness added.

“We can confirm that a member of our City of Miami Fire Department family has lost his seven-year-old daughter in the collapse,” Miami Fire Rescue Chief Joseph Zahralban said in a statement.

He added the department’s hearts and prayers are with the families affected by the horrific tragedy.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said the girl and the body of one other person had been recovered from the site of the collapse Thursday night.

She said 128 people remain unaccounted for. The death toll stood at 20.

The mayor added the rescue effort was taking a toll on first responders.

“They truly represent the very best in all of us and we need to be there for them as they are here for us,” she said.

Rescue teams say they are working 12-hour shifts as they comb the rubble in the town of Surfside, north of Miami.

"They are digging as if there are survivors there. They are still remaining hopeful, but it is indeed a terrible tragedy all around," Florida Lieutenant Governor Jeanette Nuñez told the BBC.

What caused nearly half of the 40-year-old Champlain Towers south block to fall as residents slept in the early hours of last Thursday remains unknown.

But it has emerged that residents had received a letter in April warning them of worsening structural damage to the building.

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Lawsuits are already being filed over the disaster, with the latest accusing the block's building association of "reckless and negligent conduct".

Miami-Dade County State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said she would convene a special grand jury to examine building safety and "what steps we can take to safeguard our residents" from similar disasters in the future.

US President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill plan to visit the scene of the tragedy later on Thursday.

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