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Families, rescuers hold vigil near collapsed Florida building

Service led by rabbi and Christian minister comes after officials say search for survivors being called off

Pablo Langesfeld is hugged as he visits the memorial to the victims in the collapsed 12-story Champlain Towers South condo building as the search and rescue efforts are transitioning to a recovery operation on July 7, 2021 in Surfside, Florida. Mr. Langesfeld's daughter Nicole Langesfeld is one of the missing in the collapse of the building. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images/AFP)
Pablo Langesfeld is hugged as he visits the memorial to the victims in the collapsed 12-story Champlain Towers South condo building as the search and rescue efforts are transitioning to a recovery operation on July 7, 2021 in Surfside, Florida. Mr. Langesfeld's daughter Nicole Langesfeld is one of the missing in the collapse of the building. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images/AFP)

SURFSIDE, Florida (AP) — Family members and rescue workers held a vigil Wednesday night near the site of a collapsed Florida condo building shortly after officials announced that they had given up hope of finding any survivors.

The gathering began shortly after 7 p.m. with a rabbi reciting a Jewish prayer, followed by a Christian minister leading a recitation of “The Lord’s Prayer.” Earlier Wednesday, officials informed the families of victims and the public that they had exhausted every option available in the search-and-rescue mission and were transitioning to a victim recovery effort.

Rescue workers, their helmets held to their hearts and their boots coated in dust, joined local officials, rabbis and chaplains in a moment of silence beside the rubble.

Afterward, the rabbis and chaplains walked down the line of officials, many of whom were sobbing, and one by one hugged them.

The officials then walked slowly past a tall fence where families and well wishers had placed photos of the victims, posters of support and flowers.

A Miami-Dade Fire Department helicopter conducted a flyover of the somber event. As the ceremony neared its end, an accordion player unseen on a nearby tennis court played Aaron Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man.” That was followed by a piccolo playing “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.”

With the change from rescue to recovery, officials said, crews will stop using rescue dogs and listening devices but continue to search for people who are still missing. Eight more bodies were recovered Wednesday, bringing the death toll for the June 24 collapse to 54, with 86 people unaccounted for.

Momentos, personal items and flowers are seen displayed at the Surfside Wall of Hope & Memorial on Wednesday, July 7, 2021, in Surfside, Fla. The display honors those who died during the collapse of the 12-story oceanfront condo, Champlain Towers South in Surfside (Al Diaz/Miami Herald via AP)

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