Deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre gaggled with reporters aboard Air Force One en route to Miami, Florida.
One reporter asked Jean-Pierre whether Joe Biden had any insight into when the Surfside rescue effort might shift into a recovery effort, meaning officials have given up hope of finding any additional survivors in the rubble.
Jean-Pierre said the White House was leaving those decisions up to state and local officials, but she noted the president is still “hoping for the best” when it comes to the 147 people who remain unaccounted for.
Jean-Pierre also noted that local officials had asked the White House to plan the president’s visit today. Administration officials had previously been concerned that a presidential visit would pull resources away from search-and-rescue efforts, but local leaders provided assurances Biden’s trip would not disrupt the operation.
Richard Luscombe reports for the Guardian on weather concerns at the Surfside condo collapse site:
The Miami-based National Hurricane Center (NHC) was monitoring two potential tropical systems crossing the Atlantic, the second of which, it said, had an 80% chance of developing into a dangerous tropical system over the next five days.
It is too early to know if there could be any impact to south Florida, but officials are taking precautions. The director of the Florida department of emergency management, Kevin Guthrie, said at a briefing that an additional federal search and rescue team would arrive in Miami later on Wednesday “to free up state assets” that might be needed elsewhere.
“We’re working with our state meteorologist and the NHC. If a system does develop we have contingency plans, which include backup plans of how we will continue to respond here while responding to a hurricane,” he said.
The Florida governor, Ron DeSantis, added: “This is hurricane season. We take this very seriously and take whatever steps are necessary. We hope we don’t have to, we hope it doesn’t come to that, but it is the season and you’ve got to be ready.”
Bidens travel to Miami to meet with victims’ families after condo collapse
Greetings from Washington, live blog readers.
Joe and Jill Biden are en route to Miami, Florida, where they will meet with first responders and the families of the victims who died in the Surfside condo collapse last week.
The president will also receive a briefing from state and local officials on the search-and-rescue efforts and deliver a speech before traveling back to Washington tonight.
The trip comes as the official death toll in the condo collapse has risen to 18, after six more bodies were recovered from the rubble yesterday. More than 140 people remain unaccounted for.
After seven days of searching for survivors, hope is dwindling for the families who are waiting to hear about their loved ones. Officials are also worried that a developing weather system over the Atlantic may affect the integrity of the site next week.
Daniella Levine Cava, the mayor of Miami-Dade county, said yesterday that search-and-rescue efforts were continuing “24/7, without stop”.
“We are doing everything humanly possible, and then some, to get through this tragedy, and we are doing it together,” she said.
The blog will have more details on the president’s trip coming up, so stay tuned.