The bodies of a pregnant British mother and her husband were among those recovered from the collapsed apartment block in Miami on Friday, two weeks after the building fell down in the middle of the night.
Bhavna and Vishal Patel have been identified by local authorities, but their one-year-old daughter Aishani is still unaccounted for.
The couple chose the Champlain Tower South building because of its spectacular ocean views and were looking forward to seeing family after a year in lockdown.
Vishal’s cousin Robin, who had travelled across the country to wait for news of the family, told Sky News he had spoken with Vishal the night before the disaster.
"Aishani had just started to grow her first set of bottom teeth.. And Bhavna was pregnant so we were talking about that and arranging a family reunion," he said.
Sophia López Moreira,( the sister of President Mario Abdo Benítez's wife Silvana), her husband Luis Pettengill and their three young children
Also identified on Friday were the bodies of the sister of Paraguay’s First Lady, her husband and one of their three children.
Sophia Lopez Moreira, Luis Pettengill and their three-year-old son Luis have been identified, but their other children, Ana, 6, and Alexia, 9 have not yet been found. The family’s nanny Lady Luna is also still unaccounted for.
They had just arrived in Miami, ready to spend a month in an oceanfront apartment at the Champlain Towers South building, when it fell down in the middle of the night.
Speaking to the Telegraph from Florida, Ricardo Pettengill, a family member who flew from Asuncion as soon as he heard the news said: “We are devastated. Recovering the bodies was the hardest thing.”
He is planning to stay in Miami until the whole family is found, and added that “the authorities were excellent."
Rescue workers are now focused on finding remains instead of survivors in the rubble of the Florida condominium
Credit: Pedro Portal/Miami Herald
Speaking about his grandchildren last month, looking at the pile of rubble and twisted metal Luis Pettengill told the Telegraph that all they wanted to do was play.
“They came here for a vacation. To swim in the sea. To have a good time. They came to what they thought was a safe place."
Paraguay’s foreign minister Euclides Acevedo told ABC Cardinal radio station: "We ask people for their solidarity and a prayer.
"In the face of a tragedy, Paraguayan people must show their traditional solidarity."
Juana Villalba, mother of Lady Luna, is also in Miami awaiting news about her daughter.
The Paraguayans were among several Latin American citizens who were reported to be at home when the building collapsed on June 24th. Others in the block came from Argentina, Venezuela and Uruguay.
Rescue workers have switched the focus of their mission from search and rescue to recovery as hope that anyone could be found alive was extinguished.
"We are working around the clock to recover victims and to bring closure to the families as fast as we possibly can," said Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava.
The death toll from the collapse now stands at 78, while 62 people are still unaccounted for.