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Search and rescue teams, June 29 in Surfside, Fla. Photo: Joe Raedle via Getty Images

The death toll in last week's Surfside condo collapse has risen to 12, with 149 people still unaccounted for, officials said Tuesday evening.

The latest: Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said she would ask a grand jury to "look at what steps we can take to safeguard our residents without jeopardizing any scientific, public safety, or potential criminal investigations."

  • The Surfside, Florida, official who said in November 2018 that the Miami-area condo was in satisfactory condition has been placed on leave from his post as interim building official in Doral, Florida, the Wall Street Journal reports.
  • The staffing change follows reports that Rosendo "Ross" Prieto reviewed a 2018 report about the Champlain Towers South condo and told residents the building was "in very good shape."
  • On Monday, CAP Government, a firm that provides building department services to government clients, notified the City of Doral that Prieto was on "a leave of absence and assigned another employee to assist the City of Doral Building Department on a temporary basis," city spokesperson Maggie Santos said, per the Miami Herald.

President Biden and first lady Jill Biden will visit Surfside on Thursday, nearly a week after the partial collapse of the 12-story residential building that left at least 11 people dead and 150 unaccounted for.

Officials said at a briefing on Tuesday that no new fatalities had been reported, and all families have been notified of the loss of their loved ones.

  • 210 people are on-site at any given time, working 12-hour shifts, according to Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava.
  • Levine Cava said she was notified Monday night that four balconies in northeast Dade should be "closed to residents due to safety conditions" after a building audit was conducted in the wake of the Surfside disaster.
  • The White House is coordinating Biden's visit with local officials to avoid delays to the search-and-rescue efforts, per the Miami Herald.

Driving the news: Nearly three months before the collapse, the president of the building's condominium association warned residents that the damage highlighted in a 2018 engineer's report had "gotten significantly worse," according to a letter to residents obtained by the New York Times and CNN.

  • “The concrete deterioration is accelerating. The roof situation got much worse,” Jean Wodnicki wrote in the April 9 letter. “New problems have been identified. ... A lot of this work could have been done or planned for in years gone by. But this is where we are now."
  • The letter adds to the body of evidence that concerns had been raised about flaws in the residential building months and years before the deadly collapse, including during a 2018 inspection that warned of "major structural damage" below the pool deck.

The big picture: White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday that Biden supports mobilizing federal agencies, including the FBI, to investigate the details of the disaster.

  • “The goal, of course, is to get to the bottom of what happened and, of course, how to be an instructive guide on how to prevent it from happening in the future,” Psaki said.

Go deeper

Sep 10, 2021 - World

Inside Biden's call with Xi

Biden and Xi in 2013. Photo: Lintao Zhang/Getty Images

President Biden used a call with Xi Jinping on Thursday night to test whether personal diplomacy with the Chinese leader can make more progress than the meetings among subordinates, who have been snubbing and rebuffing Biden's aides.

Driving the news: The call was the first between Biden and Xi in seven months. Since Biden's election they had only spoken once previously, on Feb. 10.

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
3 hours ago - Science

All-civilian Inspiration4 is back on Earth after flight to space

A side-by-side of the Inspiration4 crew and a shot of their capsule on the way back to Earth. Photo: SpaceX

The all-civilian Inspiration4 crew is back on Earth after their three-day mission in orbit.

The big picture: The launch and landing of this fully amateur, private space crew marks a changing of the guard from spaceflight being a largely government-led venture to being under the purview of private companies.

28 U.S. citizens depart Afghanistan on Qatar Airways flight

Passengers board a Qatar Airways aircraft bound to Qatar at the airport in Kabul on September 10, 2021. Photo: Aamir Qureshi/AFP via Getty Images

The State Department on Saturday confirmed that a Qatar Airways charter flight left Kabul on Friday with 28 U.S. citizens and seven lawful permanent residents on board.

The big picture: Friday's flight is the third such airlift by Qatar Airways since the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, AP reports.

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