96th and 97th victims of Florida condo collapsed identified

As the remaining rubble from the collapse of a 12-story oceanfront condominium in Surfside, Florida was cleared away, officials said 97 victims have now been identified, many of them using DNA analysis.  On Wednesday, police said 24-year-old Anastasia Gromova and 58-year-old Linda March were identified.

Anastasia Gromovai
Anastasia Gromova Sergiy Gromov / AP

Gromova, a Canadian from Montreal, had just been accepted to a program teaching English in Japan and was visiting the condo for one last hurrah with friend Michelle Pazos. Gromova’s body was recovered three days ago and was one of the last to be identified.

Her grieving family rushed from Canada after the collapse and had spent weeks in agony waiting in Miami.

“It just makes it real and hard but on a different level. At least we can move on now,” her sister Anna Gromova told The Associated Press, describing her sister as a bright star that fell fast. “We will remember her forever.”

Her parents said she was bright, always on the go, constantly smiling and unafraid to take on difficult challenges.

“It’s hard because you knew the loss was preventable and still nothing was prevented,” her sister said.

March’s body was recovered July 5, police said. Earlier this year, the successful attorney rented the furnished penthouse where pictures of white bunkbeds hanging precariously close to the sheared-off building made national headlines.

Linda March
Linda March Dawn Falco / AP

March, described as an outgoing person, had lost both her parents and sister in the past decade and had gotten a divorce and was looking for a new start in Miami, friends said. One of her friends, Dawn Falco, said she had been talking on the phone with March until just two hours before the disaster, CBS Miami reported.

“My heart is breaking as I see the office chair that she just purchased next to the bunkbeds,” Falco said last month.

The huge pile of rubble at the site of the tragedy has mostly been cleared away, with the debris relocated to an evidentiary collection site near the airport where a thorough search will continue “with enormous care and diligence,” said Mayor Daniella Levine Cava.

She spoke about the difficulties of the search in a statement Wednesday.

“The enormous pressure of the weight of the collapse and the passage of time also make it more challenging,” she said, stressing that workers were still carefully combing through the rubble for the remaining victims as well as personal property and religious artifacts.

According to Miami-Dade County, more than 22 million pounds of rubble have been cleared and moved to a location for evidence processing, CBS Miami reported.