Australia

Former Sydney residents confirmed among victims of Florida building collapse

A former Sydney woman with a “huge, contagious love for life” and her devoted husband are among the latest deaths confirmed after the collapse of a Florida apartment building.

Miami-Dade Police on Tuesday formally identified Ingrid and Tzvi Ainsworth as victims of the Champlain Towers South building collapse in Surfside, Florida.

The Ainsworths, aged 66 and 68, were found in the wreckage on Monday, taking the official death toll to 28.

Ingrid, known as Itty, was vibrant, honest, open and had a gift for making people feel like they were “the one”, close friend Tzippy Kastel said.

“She just had this huge, contagious love for life … this amazing aura and an energy about her,” Mrs Kastel told AAP.

“People were really drawn to her.

“From joyous to sad or to whatever it was, she was the one I would turn to.”

Mrs Kastel, who lives in the Ainsworths’ former home in Sydney, said it was beautiful to see how Tzvi treated his wife “like a queen”.

The partially collapsed Champlain Towers South condo building on 30 June, before it was demolished.

Getty Images

After spending nearly 20 years living in Australia, the Ainsworths moved back to the US four years ago to be closer to some of their seven children and extended family.

A grandchild was born the week of the building’s collapse.

“It’s a huge family and because of the type of people they are, it’s a community-wide tragedy,” Mrs Kastel said.

In a blog post for Mother’s Day in 2020, daughter Chana Wasserman said her mother made friends with every person she met.

“Everyone was treated as equals. The guy at the laundromat, the guy working at the fruit market, the receptionist at the doctors’ office, the high school kid working at Blockbuster, the seamstress, the lady doing her nails, a pigeon, the stewardess, the lady cleaning the house, the outcast, the misunderstood, the popular, the unpopular.”

Itty also surpassed seeing the world through rose-coloured glasses.

“My mother sees the world through rainbow-colored glasses with unicorns and dolphins diving in and out,” Ms Wasserman said.

The couple’s niece, Devorah Leah Phillips, described her aunt as very loving.

“She fills up everyone’s buckets with an abundance of love and compliments that there is no space for negativity,” Ms Phillips said in an Instagram post last week.

In a statement to SBS News, a spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said they were “providing consular assistance to Australians whose non-Australian relatives were in the building at the time of the collapse”.

“Owing to our privacy obligations we will not provide further comment,” the spokesperson said.

Another 117 people remain missing 11 days after the 12-storey residential building collapsed.

Rescue workers are seen at the Champlain Towers site in Surfside, Florida, on 5 July, 2021.

Rescue workers are seen at the Champlain Towers site in Surfside, Florida, on 5 July, 2021.

Anadolu via Getty Images

A search-and-rescue effort has continued almost around the clock, pausing only for bad weather, dangerous shifting of the rubble, and the demolition.

Roughly half of the condominium building came tumbling down early in the morning on 24 June and rescue workers were kept away from the unstable half that remained standing for their own safety.

Rescuers have now begun searching through fresh rubble after the last of the building was demolished, allowing crews to scour previously inaccessible places.

Four more victims – including the Ainsworths – have since been discovered, Miami-Dade police say, raising the death toll to 28 people.

No one has been found alive since the first hours after the collapse.

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