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Biden Will Visit Florida Condo Tower Collapse Site Thursday

Denis Balibouse | Reuters
  • President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden will travel to Surfside, Florida, on Thursday to visit the site of the deadly condominium tower collapse.
  • Biden's trip is being closely coordinated with local officials "to ensure it does not divert any critical local resources from the search-and-rescue operations" underway, said White House press secretary Jen Psaki.
  • Search, rescue and recovery efforts continued Tuesday at the site north of Miami Beach, six days after the 12-story tower collapsed suddenly early Thursday morning.

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden will travel to Surfside, Florida, on Thursday to visit the site of a deadly condominium tower collapse.

"They want to thank the heroic first responders, search-and-rescue teams and everyone who's been working tirelessly around the clock," White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters Tuesday en route to Wisconsin.

The president and first lady will also meet with families "forced to endure this terrible tragedy, waiting in anguish and heartbreak for word of their loved ones, and to offer them comfort as search-and-rescue efforts continue," said Psaki.

In addition to the meetings, Biden wants to ensure that state and local officials have all the federal resources they need, she added.

Search-and-rescue operations continued Tuesday at the site north of Miami Beach, six days after the 12-story Champlain Towers South condominium tower collapsed suddenly early Thursday morning.

As of Tuesday, 11 people were confirmed dead and 150 were unaccounted for, according to local officials.

The White House previously said Biden would wait to visit Surfside until he was certain that the security and logistics that accompany a presidential visit would not interrupt the search, rescue and recovery efforts underway.

Thursday's visit "is being closely coordinated with officials on the ground to ensure it does not divert any critical local resources from the search-and-rescue operations or have any negative operational impact," Psaki said.

In recent days, evidence has come to light indicating the 40-year-old condominium building showed signs of major structural damage as far back as 2018.

Search and Rescue personnel remove a stretcher from the rubble of the partially collapsed 12-story Champlain Towers South condo building on June 28, 2021 in Surfside, Florida.
Joe Raedle | Getty Images
Search and Rescue personnel remove a stretcher from the rubble of the partially collapsed 12-story Champlain Towers South condo building on June 28, 2021 in Surfside, Florida.

Biden supports a federal probe into the cause of the building collapse, Psaki said this week. The federal government wants "to play any constructive role we can play in getting to the bottom of it and preventing it happening in the future," she added.

On Tuesday, Psaki said the National Institute of Standards and Technology is the agency authorized to conduct federal investigations into building collapses. Six scientists from NIST were on the ground in Surfside on Tuesday, she said.

Alongside the NIST scientists, teams from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the FBI were also on the scene of the collapse.

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