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Memorial ceremony held a year after Florida condo collapse

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US First Lady Jill Biden hugs Luis Bermudez during the remembrance event, in Surfside, Florida.

PHOTO: AFP

SURFSIDE, UNITED STATES (AFP) – The Florida town of Surfside held a memorial ceremony on Friday (June 24) for 98 people who died exactly a year ago when a seaside condominium collapsed, with relatives of the deceased, rescue workers and politicians on hand.

The tribute was held at the spot where part of the 12-story Champlain Towers South building once stood in this town north of Miami Beach.

People taking part in the ceremony cried, hugged and clapped as relatives of victims took turns giving speeches.

“I know what it means to feel profound loss. And one year later, time has not healed my broken heart. Like all of you, I carry this extreme void with me,” said Kevin Spiegel, whose 65-year-old wife Judy died that day.

Raquel Oliveira remembered her husband Alfredo Leone, 48, and their five-year-old son Lorenzo, both of whom died in the accident.

“Exactly 365 days ago, my house imploded, collapsed with everything and everyone inside but me. It took my family two weeks to be found,” said Oliveira.

“We need answers. We need justice. We need something that I hate: the word patience,” she added.

First Lady Jill Biden and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis attended the ceremony.

Except for a teenager rescued hours after the tower collapsed, search crews found no survivors in the rubble.

On Tuesday, a judge approved a more than US$1 billion (S$1.3 billion) settlement, most of which will go to survivors of people who died in the accident.

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