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As South Florida Grieves Condo Victims, Miami Beach Cancels Its July 4th Celebrations

A man looks at a memorial Tuesday with pictures of some of the missing from the partially collapsed 12-story Champlain Towers South condo building in Surfside, Fla.
A man looks at a memorial Tuesday with pictures of some of the missing from the partially collapsed 12-story Champlain Towers South condo building in Surfside, Fla.

Updated June 30, 2021 at 6:52 PM ET

On any normal year, this weekend would be a cause for celebration. But the city of Miami Beach is cancelling its fireworks and other July 4th festivities out of respect for the families and victims of the condominium collapse in neighboring Surfside, Fla.

"There really is almost a blanket of grief all across South Florida," Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber said in an interview Wednesday with NPR's Morning Edition.

After the interview aired, officials raised the confirmed death toll in the disaster to 18 and said 145 more people are unaccounted for.

"Surfside actually is on our border," Gelber said. "So literally take one step from our city into Surfside and this building sits on the border.

"But even more than that, I think it's probably not wrong to say that there's an immense amount of people that are one degree of separation or much less to the building," he said.

"Everybody sort of knows somebody who was in there or has as a friend of a friend or a relative of a friend. So we're watching the grieving and the uncertainty."

Last year, Miami Beach's fireworks were virtual because of the coronavirus pandemic. This year, they were canceled for another reason.

"We just felt that this is not a time to be celebrating," Gelber said. "It's a time to really be standing with these family members who are hoping against hope right now."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.