The body of Greek American student Andreas Giannitsopoulos was pulled out on Wednesday from the rubble of the 12-story Champlain Towers South building which collapsed in Surfside, Miami.
Three more victims who were pulled from the rubble were identified. Two of them are children. In total, six bodies were recovered on Wednesday. Two people have not yet been identified.
The death toll now stands at 18. Rescuers continued the difficult task of sifting through the mound of debris Wednesday night. There are still 145 people missing.
Giannitsopoulos was 21-year-old student at Vanderbilt University, located in Nashville, Tennessee.
His father, Costas Giannitsopoulos, told the Wall Street Journal that his son was visiting Miami and was staying with a family friend, who is missing.
Andreas Giannitsopoulos was an “excellent student and athlete”
A GoFundMe page was created on behalf of the Giannitsopoulos family to help alleviate any needs and financial concerns and support them as much as possible during this difficult time.
The page organizer wrote: “Andreas is known as a decathlon student athlete at St. Thomas, whose family and friends describe him as the ideal St. Thomas man representing Goodness, Discipline, and Knowledge. Andreas is an old soul who impacts every heart. To know Andreas is to love Andreas.”
Last week, his grandfather and namesake Andreas Giannitsopoulos, speaking to ANT1, confirmed in a trembling voice that his grandson was among the missing.
“My son, Costas, did not reveal the news to me until today (Sunday) because I was going to have an operation on Monday. My grandson went to Miami for a vacation. He is an excellent student with a scholarship and an incredible athlete, a perfect character,” he told the Greek TV station.
The 21-year-old student, as his grandfather revealed, planned to visit Greece this summer for the first time.
Officials say they remain hopeful that some survivors could be found. Rescue teams say they are working 12-hour shifts as they comb the rubble, despite sweltering heat and high humidity hampering their efforts.
As well as bad weather, search and rescue teams have also faced fires and falling debris.
An Israeli team helping with the rescue efforts told CNN it had discovered some tunnels large enough for a person, though most of the debris was “very, very tight.”
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 emerged yesterday that residents had received a letter in April warning them of worsening structural damage to the building.
Lawsuits are already being filed over the disaster, with the latest accusing the block’s building association of “reckless and negligent conduct”.
US President Joe Biden and his wife Jill plan to visit the scene of the tragedy on Thursday.