The Canadian whose body was found at the site of a collapsed condo in southern Florida has been identified as a 66-year-old woman who died alongside her husband.
Ingrid Ainsworth and her husband, Tzvi, 68, were found on Monday by search-and-rescue crews in the rubble of the Champlain Towers South condominium building in Surfside, Fla., sources with direct knowledge of the situation confirmed to CBC News.
She and her husband lived in Australia, where Tzvi is originally from, for nearly two decades before moving to Florida to be closer to their children, their niece Chana Harrel told The Associated Press on June 26.
The Ainsworths had seven children and in recent days had celebrated the arrival of a new grandchild, Harrel said.
A funeral was held for the couple in New York City on Tuesday.
Global Affairs Canada confirmed Tuesday that a Canadian was among the 32 dead in the condo collapse that occurred on June 24. Three other Canadians are among the 113 people who remain missing, the department said.
“Canada sends its deepest condolences to the family and friends who lost a loved one in the building collapse in Surfside, Florida,” said Grantly Franklin, a spokesperson for Global Affairs Canada.
Later Tuesday, a Miami-Dade fire official said four more victims had been found in the rubble of the building, bringing the official death toll to 36.
Franklin noted that three different Canadian families have been affected by the tragedy. Canadian consular officials in Miami are providing direct support to the family of the deceased and to the families of those who are still missing, he said.
“We will also continue to liaise with local authorities in case they have any updates to provide on these Canadians and the situation more broadly,” Franklin said.
Ainsworth described as ‘inspiring’
In a blog post for Mother’s Day in 2020, the couple’s daughter, Chana Wasserman, wrote a tribute to her mother, who was also known as Itty.
“Every person she encountered, ever in her life, became her friend. Everyone was treated as equals,” Wasserman wrote. “The guy at the laundromat, the guy working at the fruit market ….”
Despite living with chronic pain, her mother “surpasses the saying, ‘Seeing the world through rose-coloured glasses,'” her post went on.
“I know I will never be able to match my mother’s pure enthusiasm for life but it’s inspiring to watch.”
Ainsworth’s husband, Tzvi, was a senior member of the Surfside Minyan Synagogue, not far from the condo collapse site, according to local media reports.
“Tzvi was a very easygoing fellow, very nice to talk to. Great sense of humour, very chatty,” Rabbi Aryeh Citron told NBC 6 South Florida.
“Just had a lot to say about his life and the places he’s been and jobs that he’s done and talking about his kids — just a great all-around guy.”
Ainsworth’s mother, a Holocaust survivor living in Miami Beach, is battling cancer and doesn’t know about the tragedy.
“They didn’t tell her. She’s not well,” Harrel said, before the bodies of the couple were found. “It’s absolutely horrific.”
Storm complicates rescue effort
A ramped-up rescue effort at the collapsed condo building faced new threats on Tuesday from the weather as a storm that has lashed the Caribbean and the Florida Keys with pounding rain and gusty winds strengthened into a hurricane.
The U.S. National Weather Service said Tuesday evening that Hurricane Elsa was packing winds as high as 121 km/h as it hurtled toward Florida’s northern Gulf Coast. The Category 1 storm is expected to make landfall between 8 and 9 a.m. Wednesday, somewhere between the Tampa Bay area and the Big Bend region.
Local officials said search crews can work through rain, but lightning from unrelated thunderstorms has forced them to pause at times — including a two-hour stoppage on Tuesday morning.
Officials said a garage area in the rubble has filled with water because of the steady rain.
“Active search-and-rescue continued throughout the night, and these teams continue through extremely adverse and challenging conditions,” Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava told reporters. “Through the rain and through the wind, they have continued searching.”
While up to 113 people remain unaccounted for, only 70 of those are confirmed to have been inside the Champlain Towers South building in Surfside when it collapsed in the early morning hours of June 24, she said.
No one has been rescued alive since the first hours after the collapse.
The remaining portion of the condo building was demolished Sunday amid fears that the structure could fall.
Officials said the demolition gave rescuers access to previously inaccessible places, including bedrooms where people were believed to be sleeping at the time of the collapse.
While officials are still calling their efforts a search-and-rescue operation, Cava said families of those still missing are preparing for news of “tragic loss.”